RVA student: Many kids are out there hungry, having to go steal - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

RVA student: 'Many kids are out there hungry, having to go steal food'

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Are local kids stealing for food? A recent graduate says she would have gone hungry many nights if not for her free school breakfast and lunch.

"Many kids are out there hungry...having to go steal food," said Chelsea Lee. "Having to go sell stuff for food."

Chelsea is heading to Spain to study abroad. It is a real highlight in what has been a tough journey through school.

"I actually had a night that I had to stay in my car," said Chelsea.

Chelsea put herself through Virginia Union University. She is now working to make sure her young son never comes home to an empty refrigerator.

"You went hungry many nights?" we asked Chelsea. 

"Yes," replied Chelsea. "And went to school the next day. Nobody would have known. The school lunch and the school breakfast really helped me to make sure that I was well fed."

In some cases, students are actually sent home with book bags over the weekend. The bags are stuffed with food. 

"So that when they come back to school on Monday we are ready to start meeting the needs," said Reid Elementary School principal Vincent Darby. "But it is really something to help them fight hunger during the weekends."

Principal Darby says 70 students depend on the weekend backpack program at Reid Elementary.

"Are there other students who would benefit from it? Certainly," said Darby. "Can we meet the needs of everyone? Certainly we can't, but we are certainly trying to do that."

Students are actually tending their own garden at Reid Elementary.

"Once we grow the food we harvest it and sell it at a discounted rate at our farm stand here at G.H. Reid Elementary," said John Lewis with Renew Richmond.

35 percent of students in Chesterfield are on free or reduced lunch. 41 percent of students in Henrico are on free or reduced lunch. An astounding 74 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch in Richmond. If you would like to help make sure no young child goes hungry, you can contact Communities in Schools at 804-358-1247.

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