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Mail carriers deliver 5,830 pounds of food for Hawkins food pantries

Jeff Bobo • Jun 9, 2018 at 1:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Last month, Hawkins County mail carriers helped "Stamp Out Hunger" by picking up 5,830 pounds of food to benefit the Rogersville-based Of One Accord ministry's emergency food pantry.

Through Of One Accord's food pantry in Rogersville and Emergency Services in Church Hill, Hawkins County residents will receive every can of food donated by patrons along the mail routes this year.

Rogersville's post office collected 3,275 pounds of food, while Surgoinsville collected 400 pounds and Church Hill collected 2,155 pounds.

"The local food pantries are thrilled to see this extra food arrive," said Of One Accord Director Sheldon Livesay. "They know they will see additional requests and needs through the summer. Our greatest thanks go to each person who was able to participate.”

According to a study released in May, 13.6 percent of residents of Northeast Tennessee struggle with hunger, with 10.3 percent over the age of 60, and 21.9 percent are children.

In May, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee announced the release of national studies “Map the Meal Gap 2018,” the latest report by Feeding America on food insecurity and the cost of food at both the county and congressional district level and “The State of Senior Hunger in America.”

Map the Meal Gap 2018 reveals that food insecurity exists in every county in Second Harvest’s service area.

Overall food insecurity ranges from a low of 12.9 percent of the population in Sullivan County up to 16.8 percent in Hancock County. 

The study also finds that people currently facing hunger are likely falling further behind as they continue to struggle to buy enough food to meet their needs.

Food-insecure individuals now face, on average, a food budget shortfall of $17.11 per person each week, down from $17.66 last year.

“Studies like Map the Meal Gap 2018 allow Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee to continue to evaluate and adjust to the need in our area,” said Rhonda Chafin, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee. “The research data includes weekly food-budget shortfalls, demographics and poverty levels which help us define the social issues plaguing our area and work together as a community to find a solution.”

Feeding America also recently completed a national study called "The State of Senior Hunger in America" for the second year.

It is the main source for information on the state and national level outlining the level of food insecurity among seniors age 60 and older.

The rate of senior hunger in Tennessee is 10.3 percent, which is up from 9.6 percent in the 2017 report.

Other key local findings include:

— 21.9 percent of children are food insecure in our region.

— $2.99 is the cost of an average meal in the service area.

— 64 percent of people do not qualify for federal programs in our region.

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