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Food insecurity grows in Blount County during pandemic

Almost 50% of households in Blount County are struggling to make ends meet.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — There is a new push to fight hunger in Blount County. 

Before the pandemic, more than 10% of people in the county struggled to have enough food. Now, that number is much higher.

Almost 50% of households in Blount County are struggling to make ends meet, according to the United Way of Blount County. 

"We are here to help the most vulnerable in our population," CEO of United Way of Blount County Jennifer Wackerhagen said. 

United Way of Blount County is pouring out over $97,000 in grants to county programs that are helping fight insecurity.  

"Over 10,000 people are being served," Wackerhagen said. "United Way is a resource to our community." 

The Longer Table is just one of many programs in Blount County that is helping to fight food insecurity. 

"There's not any shame in needing help every once in a while," The Longer Table owner Tom Williamson, said. 

The Longer Table is a ministry that serves fresh, home-cooked meals at 6 p.m. every Friday at First Baptist Church in Alcoa. 

A food pantry is also available during those Friday night dinners. People can pack up a box and take food home for the week for free.

Williamson explained that he starts cooking every Friday around 1 p.m.

"It's just a labor of love," Williamson said when asked why he cooks these meals every week. 

You can head over to the United Way of Blount County's website and find a list of programs that offer free meals to help stop food insecurity.