Channel 3's 29th Annual Share Your Christmas Food Drive is this Friday. All the food and money collected goes to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank which helps serve 20,000 of our neighbors who are hungry every week.
This week, we want to spotlight some of the Food Bank's programs to show you how they use your donations.
Today, we look a new initiative to provide fresh produce to clients.
Nearly a dozen volunteers unload pallet after pallet of fresh produce at Jasper Elementary School, butternut squash, cucumbers, collards and apples. It's a pilot program started by the Chattanooga Area Food Bank in partnership with Marion County schools. The goal is to visit each of the county's nine schools during the school year, offering students and their families a wide variety of fresh produce for free. "To see the excitement in the children and even the parents is truly wonderful" says Marion County Director of Schools Mark Griffith.
The older students go through the line themselves picking out fruits and vegetables to take home. Then parents who have children in the lower grades take a turn. Parent Beth Cooper says, "It's nice that they come here. It's very convenient to them." "I hear wonderful stories about individuals coming through the line and how much need there is in our community" adds Griffith.
Through this new initiative, the Food Bank is increasing the availability of fruits and vegetables to areas that might have limited access to fresh produce. It also promotes better nutrition and encourages clients to make healthier food choices.
The Food Bank hopes to expand these fresh produce distribution so whether you donate fresh produce at a local farmer's market, grow an extra row in your own garden and donate the harvest or give through food drives like Share Your Christmas, all donations help your neighbors. Cooper says, "It helps others that can't afford things so if you can do anything and help out and feed anyone who needs it, please do." Griffith says the entire community is grateful to everyone who makes a contribution. "I would say if there's an opportunity and someone is able to donate to the food bank, we certainly appreciate it, not just the school end, but the community end as well."
You can help fight hunger by making a non-perishable food or monetary donation to our 29th annual Share Your Christmas Food Drive this Friday. We will be live in Chattanooga at First Tennessee Pavilion, in Cleveland at LifeCare's Campbell Campus and in Dalton at First Baptist Church from 4:30am-6pm. For more information on the Food Bank's programs or to make an online donation, click here.