Food or heat or health care?

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Food or heat or health care?

Thousands of East Tennesseans face this decision daily

Second Harvest logoKnoxville, TN – It is a frightening sign of our troubled economy. Every night in East Tennessee more than 245,500 people go to bed not sure if they will have food to eat in the next few days. Many of them are families with children.

Every month more than 16,000 of our neighbors must choose between buying food and paying for heat. Almost the same number faces choosing between food and health care.

These are the hard realities discovered during a national survey on hunger. Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee participated in the study, which was conducted on behalf of Feeding America, the national organization of which Second Harvest is a member.

“We know the demand for food continues to grow,” said Elaine Streno, Executive Director of Second Harvest.  “I’m not sure we fully realized just how dire things are for so many people across 18 counties, from the plateau to the mountains.”

Many of those in need are just average folks. Only 8 percent of the 36,800 different people helped in a week are homeless and almost a quarter of those helped are in households where there is at least one employed adult.

“People are working and still unsure they can feed their family,” said Streno. “That’s a situation than can leave a person almost hopeless.”

The impact of Second Harvest is deep. Second Harvest supplies an average of 78% of the food distributed by area pantries, 67% of the food distributed by kitchens, and 54% of the food distributed by shelters. Group homes and many service organizations also get their food from Second Harvest.

“What it all means to us is this: more and more people need food and we will need to raise more money to meet that need,” says Streno. “Even though we can provide three meals for only a dollar, the task before us is still daunting.”

If you are interested in supporting Second Harvest, or work as part of an agency or food bank and are interested in setting up an interview with a Second Harvest representative, please call Elaine Streno at 865-850-4284.  For more info visit: www.secondharvestknox.org

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Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, a member of Feeding America, has worked to eliminate hunger since 1982.  In 2009, this organization provided food for more than 9.7 million meals in 18 counties in East Tennessee.  With 6 major programs and 450 Agency/Food Partners, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee distributes food to more than 145,000 kids, adults and seniors each month.  The service area includes Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne , Cocke, Cumberland, Fentress, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier and Union Counties.

Media Contact:
Elaine Streno
(865) 850-4284

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