NEWBURYPORT — For the 12th year, local middle and high school students made the annual pilgrimage to Boston to participate in the Walk for Hunger last weekend.

Jennifer Groskin, an eighth-grade social studies teacher, helped lead a group of 44 Rupert A. Nock Middle School and Newburyport High School students during the walk.

"When we first started, we took a very small group of kids, maybe 11 students," Groskin said. "As kids started to hear about what we were doing, the group grew."

When the students eventually began high school, the same group would come back to the middle school to participate in the annual walk, she added.

Several more students followed a similar pattern through Newburyport High's Interact club and were eager to continue walking for the cause. A group of 22 high school students was led by sophomore Sophie Scali, Groskin said.

"Most of them don't typically walk that much," said Groskin, who noted the walk is 20-plus miles.

"It's quite a physical challenge for them and it's the idea that you're able to do this as an accomplishment."

Students who participated in the Walk for Hunger were fundraising for Project Bread, an organization created to promote programs that help end hunger across the state.

Project Bread supports numerous food pantries and other programs across Massachusetts. The focus is on assisting families and young children, something Groskin said is beneficial for Newburyport students to learn about.

"That's helpful for students to know," Groskin said. "It's showing them that they're contributing to a program that helps feeds kids or helps kids learn about healthy choices."

Several students and people young and old could be found walking the streets, encouraging each other to push through the walk, Groskin said. She added that the purpose of the walk is not to race but to support one another and the organization involved.

"It's a neat thing for them to do that's not necessarily in our community," she said. "It has a great impact on them, knowing that you're contributing and it's going to benefit people here is a really powerful thing."

To learn more about Project Bread, visit www.projectbread.org/walk-for-hunger/.

Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.