"We feed about 170 kids a week," she said. "It takes three dollars to feed each child so ... with the $5,000 we could feed them for almost 10 weeks."
The program provides "healthy, filling food that doesn't require heating and water," Lovell said, and serves students of all ages.
"If we find out there's a child at home, younger siblings, we'll send extra food home with them," she added.
The church's pastor, Rev. Lianne Turner, said she received a call from Maldonado informing her the program was chosen as a contender for the donation. She explained the Backpack Buddies program has grown in recent years and can make sure the funds go to help those in need.
"Our goal is to not have any children in the community go hungry over the weekend," she said.
Lovell said she is grateful Whataburger selected the program to highlight in the online-voting event.
"This was a total surprise they chose us," she said.
Those interested in supporting the Backpack Buddies program can visit the Whataburger Facebook page and click on the prominently displayed link to vote.