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Food Bank Hunger Awareness Story: Knoxville, Tennessee

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee

922 Delaware Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37921

Our food bank had only been operating the Food for Kids program in our area for a few months when we learned of a 1st Grade girl named Meghan who was receiving a backpack for herself and her 4-year-old brother, Jon.

The School Social Worker knew that the children’s home life was troubled, as the mother had been out of work for some time and the stepfather was addicted to methamphetamine.

When the first few backpacks came home with the children, their stepfather would take it away from them and sell the food at a nearby flea market, despite the fact that he knew the kids would go hungry without that food.

Since the food is given directly to her at school, the next time she got her backpack, Meghan decided to hide it under her bed to prevent this from happening again.

Each night, she would wake up her little brother in the early morning hours (when everyone else was asleep or out of the house) and get the hidden food to share with him.

The program coordinator at the school learned this was happening and made a special effort to only provide foods that required no cooking.

While the vast majority of parents/guardians of participating children are doing their very best under difficult circumstances to provide for their kids (in many cases depriving themselves of food to ensure adequate nutrition for the children), Meghan and Jon’s story certainly speaks to the need for this program.

In East Tennessee, there are more than 4,000 children participating in the Food for Kids program who were identified by their teachers as showing signs of missing meals on a regular basis. This accounts for less than half of the estimated need in our 18-county service area.