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Second Harvest Food Bank needs help to win $1 million

Walmart and Facebook recently announced a joint venture that will award $2 million dollars to food pantries across the United States. Nearby Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee was among the 200 locations chosen to participate in the “Fighting Hunger Together” endeavor. The grand prize of $1 million will be awarded to one location and 20 more food banks will win $50,000 grants each.
Second Harvest Food Bank serves the eight counties of northeast Tennessee and includes Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Washington and Unicoi Counties. The organization receives donations from both national and local manufacturers, as well as grocery stores and private individuals. The food is then distributed to non-profit charitable organizations that help feed the hungry in our region.
As the economy has suffered over the last several years, the demands for more food and less donations have caused a drain on the local Second Harvest Food Bank. While unemployment rates have overall dropped in northeast Tennessee, recently released statistics for February of 2012 indicate 48 counties saw an unemployment rate of ten percent or higher. Of the eight counties in northeast Tennessee, Greene County had the highest rate of 11.3 percent, Hancock followed with 12.2 and Johnson County had the third highest percentage with a rate of 11.7 percent unemployment.
In fiscal year 2011, approximately eight million pounds of food were given out to various local food banks that fed 38,000 people per month in the combined eight local counties, an increase of 2,000 more individuals per month. According to Kathryn Smith, Community Relations Director for Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, the organization provides food for 12 charitable agencies in Johnson County alone, feeding over 1,400 people each month. Donations of food and monies typically drop during the summer months.
In an effort to fight the decrease in contributions during the warmer weather months, Food Lion, based in Salisbury, North Carolina, recently held a two-week Hunger Has a Cure crusade to support Feeding America that ran through April 17th. Customers had the opportunity to donate $1 or $3 as they checked out at the grocery store. Food Lion contributes more than 37 million pounds of food yearly that help feed the hungry. In the 2011 Hunger Has a Cure campaign, they raised $440,000 and 4 million pounds of food. Food City, Pepsi and AARP held their Drive to End Hunger effort in March to benefit the people of northeast Tennessee and have plans on making a donation of $13,388 to the Second Harvest Food Bank.
As of press time, the local Second Harvest Food Bank is currently in second place to win the $1 million grand prize. The Walmart “Fighting Hunger Together” campaign runs through April 30, 2012. Voters may vote every day, but only once in a 24-hour period. Everyone can become involved in the fight against hunger by visiting