ROGERSVILLE — Every family that qualifies for a Christmas food box from Hawkins County’s Of One Accord Ministries will still be served this holiday season, but unless contributions increase, those boxes will be a lot lighter than they’ve been in past years.
Every year Of One Accord provides Christmas toys and clothing for about 1,000 Hawkins County children, and also provides about 700 Christmas food boxes to needy families.
Community churches and other organizations “adopt” about three-quarters of the children served by the program. Of One Accord Ministries Director Sheldon Livesay said Wednesday that at the rate contributions for the children’s program are coming in, that program is expected to be able to serve the remaining children at the same level as last year.
Spending for each child averages about $50.
“We’re not there yet, but I think it’s coming in at a rate where we will be,” Livesay said.
But Livesay said food donations from the community are way down, which he attributes to the economy and the increased cost of groceries and family expenses.
“The food is going to be a bit harder this year, partly because people who give donations think more in terms of children, which is natural, and the food program becomes a second priority,” Livesay said. “We’re dealing with the higher price of groceries, a higher cost of living, and we’ve found that many of the people who give are not the higher-income folks. Our biggest contributors are middle income to lower middle income, and they’re feeling this economic crunch a little bit harder.”
Organized food drives are down as well. Last year’s Boy Scouts food drive netted Of One Accord 17,000 pounds of food, but this year it was down to 11,000 pounds.
Livesay said the average Christmas food box has been about 15 pounds of food, which includes a ham, canned vegetables, breads, pastas, cereals, canned fruit, dessert mixes and other items. With the resources currently available, this year’s Christmas food boxes are expected to weigh closer to 10 pounds.
The good news is they already have enough hams for this Christmas. The bad news is that Of One Accord still needs $8,500 to fill the boxes up to last year’s level.
Likely to be absent from this year’s boxes are the pastas, cereals, breads and some vegetables.
Of One Accord is welcoming any donations of food items or money to help increase this year’s Christmas food box content to the level of previous years. Donations can be dropped off at the Of One Accord store on Main Street in Rogersville or the satellite food bank at the Church Hill Shopping Center.
But monetary donations can go a lot further, and Livesay said every dime contributed is guaranteed to go into the Christmas food boxes.
Of One Accord benefits greatly from the Second Harvest Food Bank, and although not all items are free from Second Harvest, they’re sold to the smaller food banks at a discount.
A good example is a case of green beans. Livesay said if a case of green beans costs $7.50 wholesale, he can get it from Second Harvest for about $5.
For more information about contributing to the Of One Accord Christmas food box program call 921-8044.