Tennessee Serves Provides 191,712 Meals in Economically Distressed Counties

Press Release #

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In partnership with Tennessee’s five Feeding America affiliates, Tennessee first lady Maria Lee today announced 191,712 meals were distributed to the state’s 11 economically distressed counties through her Tennessee Serves initiative.

Tennessee’s five Feeding America affiliates include Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Mid-South Food Bank, Chattanooga Area Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee. Tennessee Serves partnered with these affiliates to distribute 3,994 boxes of food statewide each containing enough meals for four days with three meals per day for a family of four.

Since its launch in May 2019, Tennessee Serves has worked diligently to wrap around the state’s economically distressed counties. Each month Tennessee Serves introduces a new challenge to encourage Tennesseans to serve their communities in various ways. In June, Tennessee Serves has focused on serving the hungry and food insecure. According to Feeding America, one in eight Tennesseans face hunger with one in six of them being children.

“Food banks and their volunteer networks are crucial to a community’s ability to care for those who are in need,” said Maria Lee, first lady of Tennessee. “We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to aid those who work around the clock to serve their neighbors and help feed hungry families across the state.”

Bledsoe County Community Food Bank in Pikeville was one of the food banks that received boxes of food to serve seniors in their community.

“The seniors loved everything in their boxes,” said Ginger Housley, pantry director of Bledsoe County Community Food Bank. “The residents of these communities in the mountains don’t have access to a lot of food and some of the items are considered a luxury by their families. It was a great compliment to our weekly distribution.”

“The focus on our rural counties is crucial to our work, and we are thankful for this support to provide nutritious food to our neighbors in need,” said Nancy Keil, president and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. “We are so grateful for first lady Maria Lee’s commitment to fighting hunger in Tennessee.”

“Not only are we able to distribute 1,284 additional food boxes in three of our rural counties, Tennessee Serves is bringing attention to hunger in our state and the resources food banks continue to provide those in need,” said Cathy Pope, president and CEO of Mid-South Food Bank.

“For the residents served, these boxes provided not only nutritious food, but also hope for our neighbors struggling with hunger,” said Melissa Blevins, president and CEO of Chattanooga Area Food Bank. “We are so grateful for the 600 invaluable food boxes that helped fill the gap of food insecurity in both Bledsoe and Grundy Counties.”

“We are beyond grateful for first lady Maria Lee’s commitment to the hungry here in East Tennessee and throughout Tennessee,” said Elaine Sterno, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. “It highlights the poverty we all battle every day, and we are truly appreciative of her hard work and dedication to helping our rural pantries and their clients receive meals.”

“It takes everyone providing hope to feed people today so that we can end hunger tomorrow,” said Rhonda Chafin, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee. “Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee and the communities we serve, especially the rural community of Sneedville in Hancock County, are grateful for the first lady’s Tennessee Serves initiative and this effort to engage Tennesseans in helping one another and their communities.”

The first lady will help distribute boxes of food to families in Wayne County on Tuesday, June 22, in Hardeman County on Friday, June 25, and in Hancock County on Tuesday, June 29.