KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Right now, one out of every five people in East Tennessee does not have reliable access to meals. Food insecurity was a problem in the area before the pandemic began, but since then it's only grown.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, many churches are doing their part to make sure families are fed this holiday season.
Grace Baptist Church in the Karns area held its Feeding the 5,000 event Saturday morning. Volunteers gave away boxes and bags of food to the first 1,000 families in line.
Each box included most of the groceries families need to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal such as stuffing, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, corn muffin mix, cranberry sauce and chicken. They used chicken because the church was impacted by turkey shortages this year, according to Pastor Bobby Lewis.
"Our people have been so gracious, they have given more than we needed this year," he said.
In 2019, Feeding America showed 12.3% of people were food insecure in Knox County. More than 56,000 people may not know where their next meal would come from..
Grace Baptist Church said it wants to be part of the solution to fix those numbers.
"No strings attached, we want to bless you. That's what we are out to do," Lewis said.
Lewis said this year there were more donations than they expected, which helped feed many more families.