SEYMOUR, Tenn. (WATE) — With school out for summer, East Tennessee organizations are working to make sure that food-insecure children are getting enough to eat.
The group Feeding America says nearly 12% of people in Tennessee are considered food insecure. School lunch may be the only meal some kids have all day.
Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains has about 1,800 kids in its program. Many may not eat breakfast or lunch if it wasn’t for the organization’s food program.
“We have about 70% of our kids are eligible for free and reduced lunches at school, which means that they come from households that struggle a little bit in life and one of those issues they struggle with is food insecurity,” CEO of the Boys And Girls Club of The Smoky Mountains CEO Mark Ross said.
“Depending on any day we might serve 700 for breakfast and lunch, and in the end, last summer we served 50,000 meals,” said Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains Director of Nutrition Kathlyn Walter.
According to the group Feeding America, over 12% of people in Sevier County are considered food insecure.
The Boys and Girls Club is reaching beyond its front doors to make sure all children in the area have the food they need all year long even if they’re not part of their summer program.
“One exciting thing that we’re doing this summer is we’re providing large meal kits for 7-day breakfast and lunch boxes with our literacy bus that’s going around this summer,” Walter said.
The Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains’ food program is free and available for kids 18 and under. You can call their main office at (865) 428-6550 or reach out to their individual locations.
The meals they provide are shelf stable, which means they do not have to be refrigerated.
Students can take those items home and not worry about them going bad.
Other organizations that provide meal programs during the summer are Second Harvest, East Tennessee Human Resource Agency, and The Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee.