NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was announced this week that all New York City public school students will receive free lunch, but that’s not the case across the country.

Now, a group of local high schoolers is working to help feed kids in need nationwide.

The kids from the Brearley School on the Upper East Side has big dreams of knocking out hunger through school lunches. They’re developing a web application called “Food For Thought.”

New York City Public Schools Offer Free Lunch For Every Student

It will allow people to anonymously pay for students’ lunches through donations into the students’ accounts.

“There are so many kids that we don’t know about that are in the shadows that we need to help bring out and spread the awareness about this and help them,” 9th grader Emma Yang said.

As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, the team won $2,000 as a finalist in the Allstate Foundation competition for their idea.

According to the group Feeding America in 2015, 42.2 million Americans live in food insecure homes and 13.1 million of those are children.

As the group researched the issue, they found students would be shamed for not being able to pay for school lunch.

“It really hurt me to think that kids would bully other ids over this issue and it made me want to help even more,” 9th grader Maya Whites said.

“I was shocked,” 12th grader Alyssa Kapasi said. “I thought everybody should be able to afford school meals. We’re in America, when you think of hungry children you think of a third world country, you don’t immediately think of people within your own neighborhood.”

This isn’t a school project. The students have been working on the app on weekends and after school since January, and just last month they started a GoFundMe account that’s already exceeded its goal of $1,500.

All the money goes to the project the students are hoping one day will be implemented across the country.

“I’m hoping that this creates a cycle of compassion in which communities can help themselves,” 11th grader Ivy Mao said.

The team says the concept is a new way to use technology to pay it forward, and are hoping to launch a pilot program with the app sometime in 2018.

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