Hunger at Home: Local Heroes Come to the Rescue

PHOTO: A pastor in Arkansas and his congregation spend just $700 a month and are able to feed more than 700 people.
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Magazine Mountain is Arkansas' highest point. But it's also one of its lowest, with most families barely getting by. On a hot Saturday morning before dawn, families are lined up outside their church because pastor Bob Caldwell is feeding the town.

"If people don't believe in miracles, all they had to do was show up today," Caldwell told ABC News.

Caldwell is a son of poverty himself. His father was out of work for years, and now he spends every day traveling the state asking factories and businesses for free food to feed those who need it the most. He receives frozen chicken from Tyson Foods, and bread and soup from local grocery stores.

Caldwell and his church spend just $700 a month and are able to feed more than 700 people.

Hunger at Home: How to Help

"All you have here is people who knock on the door and say, 'Preacher, if I don't --- if you don't help me, I don't eat tonight,'" Caldwell said. "That may not bother a lot of people, but it bothers me."

The families who line up call it Miracle Saturdays. The food giveaway takes place the third Saturday of every month, and each family is given enough food for a month.

"It would just tear us apart, if Pastor Bob wasn't doing this," said Johnathan Essman, who was standing in line.

Gene Damron receives $50 every month for food and gas from the church.

"It makes a lot of difference whether you're going to eat all month or not," Damron said, holding back tears. "Makes a lot of difference."

Damron drove his neighbor Betty Hicks to the church. She told ABC News her food stamps only go so far.

"We ate dog food," she said. "We ate it because we had to and we ate out of our dusty dumpster. ... We'd check the rot, and we'd cut it off the food, and what was left we'd eat."

This isn't just one small community. There are 4,700 people across three counties in the mountainous region who have trouble putting food on the table. Although there is a lot of hardship, there is very little sadness. These families have accepted this condition as a way of life.

A way of life that everyday people across the country are trying to make nonexistent.

In Phoenix and San Antonio, Lisa Scarpinato started the organization Kitchen on the Street. She distributes "bags of hope" to school children each month. The bags are filled with food for the children to take home to make sure they are able to eat on weekends during the school year. The program gives out 16,000 meals each month.

In Atlanta, Aubrey Daniels and hundreds of volunteers climb fruit trees located on public lands. Last year they gave nearly a ton of fresh fruit to food pantries.

And in Wisconsin, 13-year-old Peyton Medick and her volunteers have collected 60 tons of food, one can at a time over the last five years.

"There's so many people that have helped me do this ... I just need to keep going," said Medick. "The problem of hunger is never going to go away."

Scarpinato, Daniels and Medick, along with many others throughout the country, are determined to help families move past these desperate times.

"You can sit around and you can watch people and see hunger and say, 'Well, that's sad.' But until you do something about it, you won't make a difference," said Caldwell. "Anybody can make a difference."

Click Here for More Stories from ABC News' Series "Hunger at Home"

ABC News' Catherine Cole contributed to this report.

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