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One in Five East Tennesseans Goes to Bed Hungry. Will you help?

KNOXVILLE – One in five East Tennesseans goes to bed hungry every night. Many are seniors, who must choose between food and medicine or paying their utility bills.

Thankfully, there are agencies like Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, which feeds more than 190,000 people each year in the 18 counties it serves. Second Harvest delivers 2.2 million meals every year to seniors in East Tennessee. But the need for donations – for clients of all ages – is growing faster than the food bank can handle.

That's why AARP Tennessee is holding a food drive at the Women Today Show. Bring a food donation to the AARP booth (#415) any time during the show March 4-6 at the Knoxville Convention Center and get a special gift for joining our "Drive to End Hunger."

The food bank is particularly looking for the following items: canned tuna, salmon and chicken; canned beans, corn, stew and sauces; brown rice and pasta. They also need juice, peanut butter and flour.

Tennessee ranks No. 4 of the top 15 states with the highest rates of food hardships, according to the Food, Research and Action Center. Tennessee ranks 11th in food insecurity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which says nearly one in four Tennessee residents reported not having enough money to buy food during the year.

More than 1.27 million Tennesseans are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the federal government's food assistance program. And 20 percent of them are age 45 or older, according to the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Of the 51 million Americans who face the threat of hunger, nearly 6 million are over age 60. That is why AARP and the AARP Foundation joined with four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon and team owner Rick Hendrick on a national "Drive to End Hunger."

Tennesseans can get their first in-person glimpse of the Drive to End Hunger logo on Gordon's car at the Food City 250 in Bristol this August. We hope that AARP members and volunteers from all over the region will help us raise money and hunger awareness at race week events.

Meantime, we're working with volunteers and AARP members all over the state who have spent years helping feed hungry neighbors through food drives, monthly distribution programs, food pantries, soup kitchens, home-delivered meal programs and the like.

"We can't stand by and do nothing," said AARP Tennessee State Director Rebecca Kelly. "In a state with so many resources and caring people, hunger just isn't acceptable."

Learn more about AARP Tennessee's "Drive to End Hunger" efforts here

Published February 25, 2011

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