Volunteers feed the hungry in Sevier County

4:45 PM, Mar 26, 2013   |    comments
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Volunteers provide the labor at a local food pantry while local businesses donate a lot of the supplies.

It's a ministry that's making sure people don't go hungry.

Donated food is stacked in a warehouse area then volunteers take it to a bagging area for sorting. It's handed out to needy families at Sevier County Food Ministries four days a week.

"There's a big need. We don't see the same people all the time but we do see familiar faces. And they really appreciate all we do," Jim Davis with Sevier County Food Ministries said.

He explained that volunteers make the place run smoothly. They work together to organize and distribute food.

"We have a job for everybody whether it's packing bags or stocking shelves or working in the warehouse to split big 50 pound sacks of rice into smaller bags. There's a job for everyone," he said.

Patty Hanson is one of more than a hundred volunteers who help three staff members in the mission to feed the hungry.

"At first I just worked at putting little bakery things in bags. Pretty soon I did this. And then I ended up in the thrift store," Patty Hanson said.

Thrift store sales at two or three bucks per item go toward food purchases.

Restaurants and grocery stores donate food and the ministry also buys food at a steep discount from Second Harvest Food Bank.

"We can't feed anyone a full course meal or anything but we do is try to supplement them and make sure that they aren't hungry," Davis said.

They serve about 1,500 families each week with a focus on staples and canned items.

"This is a total interfaith ministry. We are totally funded by faith," he said.

The Food Ministry Fiesta next month is a fundraiser for the organization. All the money raised goes to support their mission.

"Our fundraiser on April 18th will help us get through the spring months and into the summer," he said.

Seasonal work in Sevier County means demand for food support goes up and down. Children and grand children at home in the summer also increases the need.

Hanson said, "I think they're very appreciative of this ministry. I've had people stop me and say that if it wasn't for this place they would be without food for a couple of days."

Sevier County Food Ministries serves food to the hungry and is thankful for donors and volunteers.

"It makes me feel really good. It really does," she said.

The Food Ministry Fiesta is April 18th at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.

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