4 Things You Should Know About Food Insecurity in Weakley County, Tennessee
Updated: Dec 14, 2018
With ways you can join the conversation, make an impact, and help a neighbor.
15% of Weakley County residents experience food insecurity.
According to Feeding America's website,
"Though many of us may not realize the grave disparities that exist in our own communities, people struggle with hunger in every county and congressional district in Tennessee. They could be our neighbors, kids in our children's classes – the possibilities go on."
Though many of these residents qualify for assistance from public programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), and Meals on Wheels, only about half actually enroll.
There are three levels of food insecurity.
Marginal Food Insecurity: Individuals or families in this level may worry about running out of food, and limit purchasing certain food items because of lack of money, but this level will rarely, if ever, go to a food bank for assistance.
Moderate Food Insecurity: This level includes making decisions to reduce the quality of some food items for the cheaper price, difficulty setting aside enough money for groceries, and actually worrying about whether or not they will have enough food for the month.
Severe Food Insecurity: The individuals and families in this level will regularly miss meals, reduce portions, or even goes days between meals. This level frequently visits food banks in order to have food in the home.
Food banks, donation programs - Hunters for the Hungry, Weakley County Backpack Program, and Empty Bowls - and government aid work tirelessly to get food to the families and individuals in need. In 2017, WE CARE Ministries helped feed 3,129 families - 222,572 pounds of food!
Transportation to resources is part of the problem.
"In my opinion, it is not the lack of food resources that creates a hunger issue, but lack of transportation to those resources."
Betty Baker, Director of WE CARE Ministries, sat down with us and discussed food insecurity in our region: Betty believes Weakley County does an excellent job of working to alleviate hunger in our community. Families in need can receive food once a month from WE CARE, and senior citizens can twice a month. Since the organization's development, it has never had to turn families away for lack of food, especially after Empty Bowls' donations purchased both a walk-in freezer and walk-in refrigerator. This gave WE CARE the ability to take in fresh produce from local vendors and keep meats throughout the year. "In my opinion, it is not the lack of food resources that creates a hunger issue, but lack of transportation to those resources," Betty said, "The great people of Weakley County continue to be generous to meet the hunger needs in our community. This community has always seen the need and has been an advocate to find a solution."
Since Weakley County is made up of rural towns, some families or individuals might have to drive over 15 minutes to get to a food bank. With over 10% of senior citizens in Tennessee experiencing food insecurity, and 19% of Weakley County citizens living in poverty, transportation or money for gas are often not an option.
Get inspired - you can help!
One of the WE CARE Ministries' partners is Hunters for the Hungry. The Weakley County program is one of the largest chapters in the state of Tennessee. The program manages the local deer herd while helping residents in need by donating the meat to WE CARE.
According to its website, Weakley County Backpack Program provides meals to over 200 "hungry children with nutritious and easy to prepare food at times when other resources are not available such as on the weekend and school vacations."
Both organizations are volunteer-run, and are always looking for extra hands! Whether your donating money, you spare time, simply spreading the word, or giving food, we are all capable of giving a helping hand to our neighbors. As Betty puts it, "A community that invests in people by giving a hand up, caring about their problems, and working together will make a difference." And Weakley County's community is definitely invested.
Click over to our "Make an Impact" page to learn how you can get involved!