The 17th annual $1 million Feinstein Food Challenge is on and through the end of April every dollar donated and every food donation gathered for any of several of the region’s key hunger-fighting agencies will win a proportional cash match for that agency’s work from the Feinstein Foundation of Rhode Island.
Local agencies participating in this year’s challenge include Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, the Good Samaritan Ministries pantry in downtown Johnson City and the Community Help Center of Northeast Tennessee in Jonesborough.
At the Community Help Center, located at the intersection of Tenn. Highways 75 and 81 North, a massive food drive is under way and will continue through the end of next month. Information about how individuals, church and school groups, businesses and other community organizations can help can be obtained by emailing Sally Williams at email@example.com or calling 788-0050.
At Good Samaritan Ministries, where one of the community’s largest and busiest food pantries has been under extreme demand since January, the Feinstein challenge brings hope that the increased need for food that arrived with winter’s high heating bills will be better met.
Brian Bishop, director of community and church relations for Good Samaritan, confirmed Wednesday the pantry’s stock is continuing to run critically low.
“It is an economic situation that caused this lag,” Bishop said. “In January we wrote $30,000 worth of Hand Up checks for power bills. In February we wrote $37,000. As people have struggled to heat their homes over this harsh winter, it has caused them to struggle in every aspect of life.
“We need food. As spring comes about, people are recovering from winter heating bills and feeding their families is a basic need that we are filling. But it is impossible without our community pitching in.”
As low-income residents of the greater Johnson City area continue to make a daily choice between providing heat or food, the benefit of a food or monetary donation to Good Samaritan earmarked for food at this time will be multiplied by the Feinstein match. The ministry’s request is for everyone to spread the word about the Feinstein challenge and encourage their church, community organization, business or school to host a food drive.
Food donations may be dropped off at the ministry at 100 N. Roan St. Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Donations to Good Samaritan earmarked for food may be made online at goodsamjc.org or by mail to P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605. For more information about how to help the ministry during the Feinstein challenge, call 928-1958.
As much or more than the two-month opportunity to generate a cash match for food and monetary donations, the regional Second Harvest Food Bank views the Feinstein challenge as an opportunity to increase community involvement in the year-round fight against hunger. Over the past year, the need for food and greater community support for the food bank’s work have increased dramatically.
Last summer, the 200 community based pantries and feeding agencies in the eight-county region assisted by the food bank were assisting a record 40,000 people a month. In November, the number served by the agencies jumped to an all-time high of 47,690 people and at the end of 2013, the six-month average was continuing to climb.
Information about the many ways to help the food bank can be found online at netfoodbank.org or may be obtained by calling Second Harvest at 279-0430. Monetary donations may be made by mail to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, 1020 Jericho Drive, Kingsport, TN 37663.
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.