Second Harvest kicks off Blount County campaign

In the wake of a flood at its current warehouse, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee is asking individuals and businesses in Blount County to take a 78,000 square-foot step forward and help fund a new distribution facility to serve the hungry of our region.

Second Harvest is kicking off a $2.2 million fund-raising campaign to help pay for and turn an Alcoa building into a food bank.

Standing where floodwaters ruined food in the current warehouse last week and beside a tractor-trailer truck normally used to deliver to food to Second Harvest’s warehouse on Delaware Avenue in North Knoxville, Executive Director Elaine Streno described the food bank’s current challenge:

“Second Harvest is running out of space but not hungry people. Demand for food in East Tennessee has increased about 35 percent in the past two years at a time of economic distress for many families. Community Food Connection in Blount County serves more than 4,000 people every month and they count on our food supply. Second Harvest is forced to turn away food, sometimes tractor-trailer loads such as this one.”

Board Chair Richard Johnson said the board has raised $3.8 million already from major donors. The board then purchased the former Walker Supply Building in Alcoa for a 78,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility to serve Second Harvest’s 18-county region.

“It’s a great building, but it’s not a food bank,” Johnson said. “We have to finish paying for the building, and we have to make modifications and additions to the Alcoa facility to make it fully operational.

Johnson said that’s why Second Harvest needs to raise another $2.2 million by July 4, and the food bank is appealing to individuals, church groups, businessmen and women, civic clubs, and others to hear and act on the special capital appeal.

“People in East Tennessee are very generous and always have been there for Second Harvest in big ways,” Johnson said. “But we need their help for this special cause. When you are hungry, it’s harder to find a job, harder to concentrate in school and harder to take care of your children. Satisfying hunger is a baseline for life.”

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., whose district includes many of the counties served by Second Harvest, pointed out the importance of this effort.

“As I talk to people throughout my district, it’s clear that hunger is a problem that needs to be addressed,” Duncan said. “Second Harvest and its partner agencies and schools do a great job, and this new distribution facility will help them overcome the effects of the flood and be able to get food to even more people.”

Donations are accepted online at http://www.secondharvestknox.org or via check payable to Second Harvest sent to Second Harvest Food Bank; 922 Delaware Ave.; Knoxville, TN 37921.

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