Seventeen-year-old Anne Verghese didn’t think twice before getting involved in Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee’s Student Food Drive.
As someone who has a passion for giving, Verghese said joining fellow students in collecting food for the hungry was second nature for her, especially when wanting to do it as a way to give back to the Gray community — a community that has helped her during her time at Daniel Boone High School.
“I feel as more of an obligation and as a joy to my heart to give back to these people who have given so much to me freely,” the Daniel Boone senior said. “My service is my life. I love to give to other people, and I love to give without reason.”
That kind of selfless attitude is something many of the students who participated in Tuesday’s kickoff event at the food bank in Gray. After enjoying a performance from local hip-hop artist Mo Sabri, students from each of the eight schools represented at the event performed skits about joining this year’s Student Food Drive. While many of the skits were lighthearted and elicited laughter from the audience, each skit highlighted the fact there are hungry people in the region who need help.
Over the course of the next month, these students and many others from area high schools will collect everything from canned goods to cereal in hopes of being the top school in the drive, while also collecting food during a time of the year when the Second Harvest needs it most.
“It’s a very difficult time for us because we’re preparing to prepare holiday food boxes. We need additional food for these winter months when people need food assistance because their heating bills and other things keep them from having enough resources to buy food, so we really look to the high schools to help us,” food bank executive director Rhonda Chafin said.
In its fourth year, the Student Food Drive aims to meet the needs of the hungry in the community while also educating kids about volunteer experiences. It also develops student leadership.
More than 10 area high schools from Washington, Carter, Unicoi, Greene and Sullivan counties are participating in this year’s food drive.
Last year, high school students from across the region collected 90,000 pounds of food. The goal this year is 50,000 pounds.
Chafin said the food bank provides food for 200 community pantries and soup kitchens, which serve an average of 36,000 people every month.
“That’s significant because we know that 84,000 in our region need food assistance and are food insecure, so we need to close that gap,” she said.
Through events like the Student Food Drive, the food bank is able to try to meet those demands.
“It’s community events like this that really make it possible for us to do the work that we continue every day to provide food for those community agencies,” Chafin said.
The food bank welcomes all high schools in the eight county region to participate in the drive.
For more information or to sign up for the drive, call 477-4053.