We reached out to Jaynee Day, CEO, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to find out why we should give locally. The facts about the need and 46-county area they help serve are staggering. The Second Harvest brand is synonymous with the fight against hunger.
1. What are some surprising facts about those at risk for hunger in Middle Tennessee?
• Hunger impacts the lives of 1 in 6 Tennesseans and 1 in 4 children struggle with hunger every day right here in Tennessee.
• There are 395,770 people in our service area who are food insecure, which means they do no know where their next meal will come from.
• Food Insecurity Rates: Davidson Co. 17.5%, Weakly Co. 18.4% (highest in service area), Williamson Co. 8.9% (lowest in service area)
• Every day, a neighbor, coworker or family member could be forced with the choice of paying for food or paying for other basic living necessities.
• Almost one-third of the people we see seeking food assistance have incomes much higher than the federal poverty level, which means they are ineligible to receive help from federal nutrition safety net programs like SNAP or WIC. These families’ ability to access food from Second Harvest help relieve pressure on their expenses so they don’t have to make the tough choice of paying for food or paying for medical care, which allows them to get back on their feed, helping avoid falling deeper into poverty. We’ve also seen the number of people living in poverty slightly increase, about 5 percent, which means more and more families are making tough choices about paying for food or other basic living necessities.
• Hunger doesn’t care who you are. It affects all types of people. According to the 2014 Hunger in America Study, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee serves 83,000 households a year, including 64,000 children and 47,000 seniors – and those numbers are unduplicated, which means we could serve some of those multiple times throughout the year.
• Nearly two-thirds of our adult clients have attained a high school degree and almost a quarter have a post high school education. Now more than ever, we are seeing a trend of students seeking food assistance – people struggling with hunger are trying to increase their education level to drive employment opportunities, and, in turn, income.
• One of the most eye-opening results of the 2014 Hunger in America study is the number of clients with medical issues. Locally, the number of clients with diabetes or high blood pressure is much greater than the national average. Illnesses and medical disorders can be caused by a poor and inadequate diet and can present a substantial financial burden causing tough choices and trade offs to keep food on the table. 80 percent of our client households report choosing between food and medicine or medical care in the past 12 months.
2. Why is giving locally important to Second Harvest?
Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee could not do what we do without our 450 plus non-profit Partner Agencies. Every dollar donated provides four meals to our neighbors in need within our 46-county service area through our partner agencies who distribute groceries and serve meals to our neighbors. And without our corporate partnerships we would not be able to fund all of our feeding programs to distribute food to our Partner Agencies. It is due to the collective generosity of individuals, businesses, organizations and government in our community that we are able to do what we do every day.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee gives thanks this season for the tremendous support that helps us fill the need in our community.
3. How are ways we can give to Second Harvest during this Holiday Season?
• Anyone can join Second Harvest to make a difference in the fight against hunger. Whether it is donating a can of food, a dollar to provide four meals or an hour of your time to help sort food, you can make a real difference for a neighbor in need. Visit our website, secondharvestmidtn.org to learn more.
• Celebrate the season this December by giving to Second Harvest, where good does the most good. Your donation will provide meals and groceries to those in need effectively and efficiently this holiday season – 96 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to our Feeding Programs.
4. Tell us about the Backpack Program for school children.
The BackPack Program provides easy-to-prepare food for at-risk children on weekends and during school breaks when other resources are not available. A typical BackPack includes two canned entrees, such as chili and beans and franks, applesauce, two cereals, 100% fruit juice, shelf-stable milk and a snack. The Second Harvest BackPack program serves more than 6,700 hungry children each week at more than 100 schools throughout Middle Tennessee.
5. What continues to drive you to assist the hungry in Middle Tennessee?
I am proud of what Second Harvest has accomplished throughout my 26 years with the organization. However, our work is not done. Children, families and seniors in our community are going to bed hungry, and it is our duty as an organization and our moral obligation to continue the fight against hunger until we create a hunger free Tennessee.