For those who wish to help, Junior League members will be collecting food and monetary donations from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday at all Food City stoies in Johnson City, Jonesborough, Gray, Piney Flats, Blountville, Kingsport, Bristol, Church Hill and other local communities.
Rhonda Chafin, executive director of the Northeast Tennessee food bank, recently explained why the community’s support for the food bank is so critical at this time.
Contributions to the food bank are down approximately 20 percent from where they were at this time last year, “a very significant” decline that Chafin said is obviously affecting Second Harvest’s ability to help food insecure residents of the eight counties of Northeast Tennessee.
At the same time, the state has instructed the food banks to prepare for an influx of people in need of help with food resulting from a 50-day gap in the issuance of Supplement Nutrition Program benefits stemming from the recent government shutdown.
With the decline in donations, Chafin said the food bank’s ability to assist dozens of community-based pantries across the region that depend on its supplies as well as Second Harvest’s food backpack program for school children and mobile pantry for seniors and others who live in rural areas without access to a local pantry were already risk. And the delay in SNAP disbursements is expected to add to that risk.
“What this is is a 50-day waiting period for SNAP and we probably will see an influx of people at our our agencies and mobile pantries,” Chafin said in an mid-February interview with the Johnson City Press.
“It’s a concern. We’re low on food donations. We’re low on financial donations. It’s a difficult time for us and we are encouraging people if they have not a chance to give, to give now because I would say is is a desperate time for people who will be on this 50-day SNAP gap.”
On Saturday, the Junior Leagues of Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol will be encouraging Food City shoppers to help by donating most needed items food items including breakfast cereals, peanut butter, canned meats, soups, fruits and vegetables, boxed meals and macaroni and cheese. Monetary donations to Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee or to the Feeding America Food Bank of Southwest Virginia may also be made through the Junior League volunteers.
Now in its 29th year, the annual Junior League Drive is the first large-scale, regionwide food drive of 2019.
Because of the increase need, the Junior League members are encouraging everyone to get involved in local hunger relief by making a food donation on March 2. Last year the Junior League drive collected 19,787 pounds of food and this year’s goal is 25,000 pounds.
Donations to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee may also be made by mail to P.O. Box 3327, Johnson City, TN, 37602 or online at https://netfoodbank.org. More information about how to help the food bank may be obtained by calling Second Harvest at 423-279-0430.
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.