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Volunteers distribute 5,800 pounds of chicken
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Several hundred families received Purdue chicken tenders yesterday thanks to Kids of the Community, Second Harvest Food Bank and Warren County Schools.
Almost 500 children were invited to receive the free chicken, but less than 100 showed up Saturday morning at West Elementary. That’s when volunteers started posting on Facebook and other websites the availability of the chicken for anyone with children in area schools. Slowly but surely, word got around and the chicken was distributed to those in need.
Second Harvest provides a central distribution center for companies, groups and individuals who wish to help provide food for hungry people in Middle Tennessee. The organization had 5,800 pounds of chicken tenders and popcorn chicken to distribute right after Christmas.
Barry Dishman and Lynn Cole, volunteers with Kids of the Community, did some planning and were able to purchase all of the chicken.
“When Barry told me how much chicken they had and the price, I said, ‘We need to buy the whole thing.’ That’s the kind of food we can hand out to designated children and parents to eat on weekends,” said Cole. “It’s good protein for them.”
Cole made a plea during a Noon Rotary meeting asking if anyone had a large, walk-in freezer to store the chicken. Director of Schools Bobby Cox offered the use of the freezer at the old Morrison School.
Kids of the Community decided to give the chicken to students in area schools with the highest free and reduced lunch population.
“West Elementary has the highest percentage of students on free or reduced lunch in the county. I believe they have 85 percent on free or reduced,” said Kids of the Community volunteer Heather Luttrell.
West Elementary guidance counselor Emily Haston said, “We do have 85 percent on free or reduced lunch which means they live right at or below the poverty line. We are also a centrally located school. On behalf of West Elementary parents and students, I want to thank Barry for coordinating this effort. It is greatly appreciated.”
All students at West Elementary were given the opportunity to take home the free chicken. Students at Centertown Elementary and Dibrell Elementary who participate in the FUEL program were also informed. The FUEL program targets children whose main source of food may be the lunch they receive at school. It places food in their backpacks for the weekends.
Kids of the Community director Barry Dishman said, “We keep seeing a bigger need all the time. The FUEL program is getting harder and harder to do because of the economic downturn. The people at Centertown told me they are not just serving 25 children by choice, but they are serving only 25 because they have to. We can’t do this without our anonymous donors. This is costly. We appreciate all the people power and all of our volunteers.”
Kids of the Community, in conjunction with Second Harvest Food Bank, provides food for senior citizens and works with Healing Hands Ministries to distribute food during mobile food drives.
“Anyone can designate their money going to Second Harvest must be used in Warren County,” said Cole. “A mobile pantry costs $2,500 and is an entire tractor trailer filled with food.”
“Kids of the Community is a wonderful organization to be involved with. You don’t have to give money. You can give your time. We worked with Second Harvest to provide hundreds of pounds of potatoes to Meals on Wheels. We provide after-school tutoring for students in need. We also had a greenhouse donated and would love to get a second one which will help us become sustainable so we can grow our own garden,” said Cole. “We are also very thankful for First National Bank. They are one of our strongest community supporters and they donated our building on Cadillac Lane.”
For more information, or to volunteer with Kids of the Community, call 474-5437.