1 in 4 children could be food insecure in Tennessee | Second Harvest taking action to end childhood hunger | WJHL

TRI-CITIES, Tennessee (WJHL) – In the aftermath of the pandemic, Second Harvest Food Bank in northeast Tennessee is working to feed more people than ever before.

Second Harvest has always made providing access to food to children in need a priority, but it’s even more important now as they see an unprecedented need.

Food Bank executives say food insecurity among children in northeast Tennessee is higher than the national average – they work daily to change that.

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“Our goal is to ensure that children receive food aid, whether through our backpacking program, through our school lunch box program or through our summer feeding program,” said Executive Director Rhonda Chafin.

These programs hit all children where they are; for example, sending them home from school with backpacks full of food. This is a discreet and convenient way to ensure that food insecure children have access to food in their homes.

“We look after around 4,000 children with the backpack program. With this program we are in 130 schools, ”said Chafin.

The Tafel works with local school districts across the region. School counselors and teachers identify the children who need help.

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“You know the children who come to school hungry. They know the children who come to school and don’t have enough to eat, ”says Chafin.

“It’s a fundamental thing. If they don’t know, it’s difficult to teach and learn, ”said Tim Vanthournout, assistant principal at Science Hill High School.

He says more students in the Johnson City school district have been in need of help since the pandemic began.

In fact, data from Feeding America shows that 1 in 4 children in Tennessee are expected to be food insecure after the effects of COVID-19.

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“We have seen an increase in the number of students who need support and have to take advantage of the services we offer because of the generosity and the second harvest program,” said Vanthournout.

Second Harvest says whether they are helping hungry children or others in need, anyone can make a difference simply by raising awareness.

“That is what Hunger Action Month is all about. Awareness that there is a serious hunger problem among our community members. It’s a growing problem and a problem that is solvable, ”said Chafin.

For more information about Second Harvest’s resources for children in need in northeast Tennessee, visit their website.

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