Tri-Cities Junior League members will be gathering food donations for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee and the Feeding America Food Bank of Southwest Virginia Saturday at Food City stores across the Tri-Cities region.
The need for food is at an all- time high in the region, and Second Harvest is asking everyone to remember those who do not have enough to eat while they are gathering their groceries on Saturday and place a donation in the Junior League collection barrels located at the front of each of the stores.
Kathy Smith, communications director for Second Harvest, said the annual Junior League drive is one of the region’s largest food drives of the year and comes at a time when the 200 pantries and feeding agencies in Washington, Carter, Unicoi, Johnson, Sullivan, Greene, Hawkins and Hancock counties assisted by the regional food bank are bracing for the increased need for food that comes with the summer recess of schools.
While collections were down in last year’s Junior League food drive, Smith said the club members have collected as much as 20,000 pounds in food in past years and their goal is to reach that high mark again this year to help meet the increasing need.
Smith said statistics show one in every five people in Northeast Tennessee lives below the federal poverty line and as many as two in five Northeast Tennessee children are at daily risk of not having enough to eat. The need for food among the local agencies assisted by Second Harvest has increased approximately 40 percent since 2008 and currently stands at 38,000 individuals who are receiving food assistance from the agencies each month, up from 36,000 individuals monthly at this time last year.
To help the meet the need, the Junior League members will be handing out paper grocery bags at the front of all area Food City stores on Saturday and encouraging everyone to place their donation in the bag and return it to the collection barrels at the front of the stores. The most needed food items include canned meats, soups, stews, vegetables and fruits, breakfast cereals, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese and pasta meals.
All donations will be distributed to local people in need through non-profit organizations in Northeast Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia served by the food banks.
For more information about the food drive or other ways to help the food bank, call Second Harvest at 477-4053.