Local leaders pack boxes for Food for Kids Program

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KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL-TV) – Second Harvest Food Bank had some very special volunteers helping pack food for their Food for Kids Program today.

Elected officials from Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport as well as a representative from Congressman Roe’s office participated in the annual event which started with a meeting where Second Harvest Executive Director Rhonda Chafin, addressed the group about hunger in Northeast Tennessee and across America. Food Banks in the Feeding America network are joining efforts with the National Anti-Hunger Organizations to advocate for a strong and effective national nutrition safety net for vulnerable, low-income individuals and families that rely on food banks and nutrition programs for food assistance.

“We really want to engage our legislators to really be aware of food insecurity in our area, be aware of poverty and be aware of programs that we operate and pieces of legislation that might affect those things.”, Chafin said.

“It gives us an opportunity to really look at the latest data, where are we going, are we able to make a dent in this thing and it also gives us a chance to meet with other leaders in our sister cities and I think that is a good, healthy thing.”, Johnson City Vice-Mayor Jenny Brock said.

“It’s very enlightening to see the needs we have in this area, so as we come together today just to pack food to serve the community, it’s pretty amazing as we come from all three cities.”, Kingsport Alderman Darrell Duncan said.

During this meeting, the officials were able to see the numbers per county and region as well as have a discussion about the numbers of food insecure in the area. Some hope this leads to a larger discussion down the road.

“I think what came out of this really is we probably need sometime to have a summit, some type of round-table to understand even more about the poverty in this area.”, Duncan said.

“it gives us an opportunity to really look at the latest data, where are we going, are we able to make a dent in this thing and it also gives us a chance to meet with other leaders in our sister cities and I think that is a good, healthy thing.”, Brock added.

There are several pieces of legislation coming up on both Nashville and Washington that could have a significant effect of the programs at Second Harvest.

“Going into 2017, it’s really going to be key because we’ve got some key pieces of legislation with the Farm Bill and other areas that could affect our federal nutrition programs that really support those that are food insecure in our area.”, Chafin said.

Following the meeting, the volunteers joined efforts to fill bags for the food bank’s Food for Kids Backpack Program. This program supplies a bag of ready-to-eat meals and snacks for chronically hungry children to take home from school every other weekend. For the current school year the Food for Kids program provides supplemental food for 4,610 students in 138 schools.

“Not only this time of year, but we see a need for all times of the year but anytime you donate to any kind of charity, it always makes you feel good, and this time of year, it’s kind of a giving spirit.”, Duncan said.

There are several way to help Second Harvest, if you want to make a monetary donation or become a volunteer, visit the Food Bank’s website www.netfoodbank.org for more information or call (423)279-0430.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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