School is out for summer, and local nonprofit agencies are preparing to do what they can to ensure students who depend on free and reducedpriced meals during the school year will have enough to eat.
Good Samaritan Ministries’ Summer Food program, which includes three monthly distributions to 600 families of students from schools in Johnson City and Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties, will kick off June 21. Construction on North Roan and King streets has relocated the ministry’s summer food distributions to the Appalachian Fair in Gray, where subsequent distributions will be held July 19 and Aug. 2.
Each distribution will include enough fresh, frozen and canned meats, vegetables, fruits, pasta, peanut butter and other kid-friendly foods to provide for a family of four for about two weeks, as well as paper products, toiletry items and cleaning supplies to help supplement their grocery budget. Additional food items will be provided for families with more than four people.
The cost of the program is estimated at $21,000 per distribution or $63,000 for the summer. Gifts to help so far include 10 $35 family sponsorships and a memorial gift of $12,000 made in honor of a loyal Good Samaritan supporter, the late Barbara Nell Beck, by her son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Ruby Beck.
For others who wish to help, a $35 donation will sponsor one family for one month, or $105 will sponsor a family for all three distributions.
The program will wrap up with a back-to-school picnic and distribution to include three outfits of new clothing, a backpack and school supplies for each of 1,200 students included in the program and for an additional 800 local children with parents who are incarcerated and served by the ministry year-round.
Ministry Director Sarah Wells said gifts from Johnson City’s Noontime Rotary Club, the International Rotary Foundation and the Johnson City Sports Foundation have provided all the backpacks, and an extremely generous winter clothing close-out discount from the Walmart stores in Elizabethton, Erwin and Johnson City and a $1,200 donation raised by Eagle Scout Connor Counts have provided all but about 30 pairs of jeans needed for this year’s back-to-school distribution.
In addition to jeans size 32/30 and 34/30, school supplies are still needed and may be dropped off at the ministry at 100 N. Roan St. Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Volunteers to help pack clothing packages for the students will be needed at the ministry beginning next week. Construction flagmen will be directing traffic to an entrance at the back of the ministry building throughout the summer.
Donations to Good Samaritan earmarked for Summer Food or for Back to School may be made online at www.goodsamjc.org or by mail to P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee’s Summer Food Service Program, a federally funded bag-lunch program administered by the Tennessee Department of Human Services, will begin next week at 29 feeding sites across the region.
Food Bank Director Rhonda Chafin said the program is designed to help fill the nutrition gap school-age children face during the summer recess, with bag lunches delivered every weekday to 16 sites in rural areas with limited access to other daily feeding programs and 13 fixed sites in more-populated areas.
The program is open to anyone under age 18 and no registration is necessary.
In Unicoi County, the food bank’s delivery sites will include the YMCA of Unicoi; Erwin Housing Authority; Roca De Salvacion, (Rock of Salvation) at 610 Adams St., Erwin; West Park Community, 1106 W. Park St.; Railroad Street Community, 509 Railroad St., Erwin; Whispering Meadows Apartments, 1821 Zane Whitson Drive, Erwin; and Clinchfield Commons, 102 Conductor Lane, Erwin.
Carter County delivery sites will include Happy Valley Elementary School; Hampton Elementary School; S. Hills Apartments, 201 South Hill Drive; Alexander Apartments, 429 W.G. St., Elizabethton; Lynnwood Apartments, 1235 Bluefield Ave., Elizabethton; Arney Hills Apartments, 920 B Pine Ridge Circle, Elizabethton; Jena Beth Apartments, 652 Jena Beth Drive, Elizabethton; and Sunflower Lane Community in Watauga.
A complete listing of local distribution sites included in the national Summer Food Service Program, including local sites not sponsored by the food bank, and additional food assistance information may be obtained by calling the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE.
More information about Summer Food Service Program feeding sites sponsored by Second Harvest may be obtained by calling the food bank at 477-4053.
Donations to help support the food bank may be made to Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee online at www.netfoodbank.org or by mail to 127 Dillon Court, Gray, TN 37615.
If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at firstname.lastname@example.org, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.