Summer program looks to feed hungry children across west Tennessee

CHESTER COUNTY, Tenn. – Many west Tennessee children rely on their schools for breakfast and lunch. Now that school is out for the summer, many will face the possibility of going hungry. It’s something the Southwest Human Resource Agency is trying to change.

“We are providing approximately 200,000 meals in 10 weeks,” said Patti Pickler, the Community Outreach Director for the SWHRA.

The agency is a public non-profit run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Over the next three months, their summer food service program will be providing free meals to children under the age of 18, across nine different west Tennessee counties.

“We started the Summer Food Service Program about 15 years ago with probably around 70 sites, and now we’re serving 210,” said Pickler.

The sites chosen are typically churches or schools, or wherever children will be during summer months.

At a kitchen in Chester County, workers and volunteers are busy preparing the meals.

“We will do about 700,000 meals out of this location on an annual basis, so that makes a big impact on feeding seniors and children,” said Executive Director for the SWHRA., Mike Smith.

Food insecurity is definitely on the rise here in Tennessee as well as across the country.

Thanks to their new freezers and storage area, the agency plans to expand in the coming years. They say they just need help getting the word out.

“If you know where there’s a child in need of meals, please make sure you call us and we can see if we can find a location close to them to get them a meal,” said Pickler.

To find a nearby SWHRA location, go to www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks and put in your zip code.

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