Second Harvest donations help support Cocke County school pantry


Monday was Double Your Donation Day at Second Harvest Food Bank. Every dollar given, up to $300,000, was matched by donors.

The total amount raised was $684,394. 

Second Harvest helps feed those in need in 18 East Tennessee counties, including Cocke County, where the organization’s first-ever school pantry is helping feed one of the state’s most economically disadvantaged areas.

Tucked away in the hills of Cocke County, Grassy Fork Elementary’s school pantry is quietly feeding the mountain they call home.

“We’ll have 72-80 people stay in our after school program. We only have 123 in the school, but we feed them again,” said Principal Judy Webb.

Grassy Fork’s pantry fed 165 families in November, but only 123 kids are in the school.

“When we see our children take home food from our pantry and we know that they’re going to be able to have food all through the month, and they do, then you get to see that work flourish and that child flourish and know they can be all that they can be,” said Webb.

The food bank distributes on the third Tuesday of every month, a time when SNAP benefits have already run out for many.

“And so, it’s not the same ones every time, so everybody don’t need it at the same times but it is available if they do need it. And we can feel good about our students being able to have food. All these students help too. They help put it in the cars and and they work at it so they’re getting another benefit of showing giving is so good, and that every now and then people need a helping hand,” Webb said.

Grassy Fork has been a Tennessee Reward School for the last four years Webb has been principal. She credits a full stomach to start the day for the students’ constant improvement in academics, ranking in the top five percent of schools in the state.

“We can see it actually happen, when children are well fed then they don’t have to worry about that and they can put all their energies into their classroom work,” she said.

We asked Webb if she thinks the students understand the scope of what they’re doing.

“I really don’t think so and that’s the beauty of it too. Remember when you’re mom and dad never told you there were bills to pay and you just thought everything was just wonderful? I just think they live in a very charmed life and we’re glad to be able to provide that.” 

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