Nightly News   |  March 17, 2014

‘Invisible Problem’: Kids Who Only Eat at School

One in five children in the country live in poverty and getting food on a daily basis can be a big hurdle.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> our "making a difference" report tonight deals with a tough subject, specifically poverty and hunger. new evidence out today shows some 20 million children in this country are on food stamps . getting their most basic needs met can be a daily struggle. but one new england woman is trying to change that and we get her story from nbc's ron mott.

>> double word.

>> reporter: when laurie and her husband hit a rough patch financially, feeding their three girls -- evelyn, abby, and celia -- became a nonstop heartache.

>> my husband would be sick over it, not being able to provide for his family. it bothered him a lot. an everyday concern.

>> reporter: going to school was comforting, free meals there. but what about weekends? this army of volunteers for the nonprofit end 68 hours of hunger fills the void.

>> you haul, i'll pack.

>> reporter: bagging up enough food for two breakfasts, two lunches, and three dinners, given in such a way to avoid embarrassment.

>> we see a brighter child on monday morning. we see a more focused child on fridays. they're waiting for the end of the day to get their bag.

>> reporter: clair bloom, a retired naval officer, founded the program three years ago in new hampshire and has since taken to it maine and california.

>> this is a nearly invisible problem. kids don't come to school and say, my dad lost his job and we didn't have anything to eat this weekend. they don't come to school and say that so we have to be really observant to clue into the behaviors that they demonstrate that show us, these are hungry kids .

>> reporter: she spent thousands of her own money to get 68 hours off the ground. now supported by grants and donations. growing from 19 students that first year to 800 today and counting. redefining her life's purpose along the way.

>> i could not imagine doing anything different. i feel, this is honest and true, i feel like this is what i was put on earth for is to feed these kids.

>> reporter: kids like these girls.

>> it was such a relief, really amazing.

>> reporter: no longer wondering where their next meal is coming from.