The past six weeks at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee and the nonprofit One Acre Cafe on West Walnut Street have been reflective of two significant trends that emerged with the crisis — an unprecedented jump in those who need help with food and and an awe-inspiring surge in the number of people who want to help.
At the food bank, Executive Director Rhonda Chafin said distributions have jumped by 30 percent with the spike in unemployment that has people who have never before faced hunger asking for food.
The food bank’s reserves have been depleted, food orders placed by pantries and emergency feeding programs across the region are backlogged, truckloads of food are on order and calls from people who want to help the food bank have been nearly overwhelming.
At One Acre Cafe, where people who can not pay for a meal can volunteer and eat for free, volunteering has been sidelined. Meals are available by pickup only. And the numbers served have nearly doubled — a feat that would not have been possible without those donations of those who can afford their meal who always have the opportunity to donate a checkout.
“We are just amazed everyday by the love and support that we receive from this community. During this time, we are dedicated to fulfilling our mission now more than ever. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else” One Acre Cafe Executive Director Michelle Watts said.
With the significant rise in the number of people who need food and in the number of people who want to help, the two hunger fighting agencies have seen a surge on two sides of COVID-19 crisis and next week they will both join in a global effort to bring those two sides together.
Giving Tuesday Now, a worldwide day of giving and unity staged in emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19, is set for Tuesday, May 5.
To create an influx of support for community-based nonprofit agencies around the world that are struggling to keep up with the need created by the crisis, Giving Tuesday is intended to spur “generosity, citizen engagement and philanthropy.”
Asha Curran, CEO of GivingTuesday Now, said. “As a global community, we can mourn this moment of extreme crisis while also finding the opportunity to support one another. At a time when we are all experiencing the pandemic, generosity is what brings people of all races, faiths, and political views together across the globe.
“Generosity gives everyone power to make a positive change in the lives of others and is a fundamental value anyone can act on. It’s a day for everyone around the world to stand together and give back in all ways, no matter who or where we are. We each have the power to make an impact with acts of generosity, no matter how small, and to ensure the sustainability of organizations and services that are crucial to the care and support of our communities,”
Second Harvest will mark the day by inviting area legislators to help distribute food at five mobile pantry sites set up across the region, by emphasizing the increased need and by asking everyone to make a monetary donation to the regional food bank. For individuals, seniors and families with children who are in need of food, the mobile pantry will be available at following locations:
• 9:30 a.m., Edgemont Towers, 100 Ash St., Bristol
• 10:30 a.m., Embreeville Cove, 730 Bumpass Cove Road, Erwin
• 11:00 a.m., Fort Shelby, 400 Shelby St Bristol
• noon, Jackson Heights Apartments,1298 Jackson Blvd., Jonesborugh
• 2 p.m., VFW Post 9724, 2463 Hwy 11 E, Jonesborough
Donations to Second Harvest may be made online at netfoodbank.org, by mail to 1020 Jericho Dr, Kingsport, TN 37663 or by calling the food bank at 423-279-0430.
Donations are also welcomed and needed at One Acre Cafe online at oneacrecafe.org or at the cafe at 603 W. Walnut St.
If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at 423-722-0538, [email protected] or P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605.