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Community Food Connection has dinner to connect volunteers

Larry Ladd knows most of the volunteers who help weekly, monthly, sometimes daily with the Community Food Connection of Blount County.

They are so valuable to the non-profit, which has no paid staff, no vehicles and no budget for corporate expenses. The 19-year-old organization is run by a volunteer board and exists with all volunteer help.

And there are a lot of volunteers, Ladd says. Good people who care about helping those in need of food. He and the board thought it was time some of these people got to know each other. At the same time, the board could say “thanks” for all the work the volunteers have done during this trying year.

And what better way that around the table? The Community Food Connection planned a potluck dinner to say thank-you to the volunteers and to provide an opportunity for the volunteers to meet each other.

The dinner was held on Friday, Nov. 13, and an estimated 160 people showed up to break bread together.

The Volunteer Appreciation Potluck Dinner, held at First United Methodist Church on Montvale Station Rd. Fried and baked chicken, drinks, plates and cups were all donated. Volunteers were asked to bring a vegetable, salad or dessert. It was a time of fellowship and thanks, said Ladd.

Community Food Connection is finding itself in “uncharted waters” as the numbers of those needing assistance continues to grow. In 2008, CFC helped almost 41,000 people with bags of food and other groceries.

In 2009, however, Community Food Connection was seeing growth most every month. In November, they broke the records they had been setting with 6,066 people receiving food assistance. During 2009, CFC has added just over 100 new families to the roles each month, bringing preliminary totals for 2009 to approximately 60,000 people, compared to 40,926 in 2008.

“We have continued to respond to these needs,” said Ladd, in a press release. “We’ve never had to close or cut down the number of bags or food.”

In November, Community Food Connection also passed out 1,000 two-pound turkey breasts along with their nonperishable food.

Community Food Connection does not do their grocery store weekend food drives until mid-March because of winter weather.

The Community Food Connection is located at 1402 East Broadway, Maryville. Donations can be mailed to Community Food Connection, P.O. Box 786, Alcoa, TN 37701.

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