TO LEARN MORE
For more information about the Let's Can Hunger food drive, visit the Chattanooga Salvation Army website at csarmy.org.
HOW TO HELP
The Salvation Army needs the following items:
Pasta and sauce
Rice and beans
Bisquick and muffin mix
Cereal and oatmeal
Canned or powered milk
The Salvation Army pantry normally feeds about 80 families a month, but it's running out of food.
"We are totally out of pasta," said Sandy Leavell, the Salvation Army of Chattanooga's local director of social services. "We've got no rice, no dry beans and no crackers."
The Salvation Army is launching a monthlong food drive to restock its shelves. The food drive is called Let's Can Hunger.
"One out of five of our neighbors are hungry," according to the Salvation Army's website.
Two area Walmarts -- Fort Oglethorpe and Chattanooga -- will host food drives in March, with the first Saturday at 3040 Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Salvation Army officials are asking residents to leave food at the stores on the specified dates. The goal is to collect 5,000 pounds of nonperishable food this month.
"We've got pie filling, but no Bisquick," said Leavell.
There is spaghetti sauce, but no spaghetti.
Sugar, cooking oil and cornmeal also are in demand, she said.
A can of beans is good, but a bag of beans is better because it can feed more people, she said.
A 2010 report by the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies showed that 20 percent of Tennesseans live in households that may not have enough food. In Chattanooga, about 38,000 families live below the poverty level.
New federal reports show that unemployment is shrinking, but poverty still is up, said Leavell.
Local residents have increased their demand for food over the past six months, she said.
While Leavell was speaking Friday, a diabetic woman with a broken toe came into the Salvation Army office. Joyce Knox had walked to the site from Bailey Avenue and said her sugar level had dropped too low.
Salvation Army officials gave her a meal bar and chips while she filled out paperwork to get further assistance.
Knox said this was the first time she had been to the Salvation Army.
"It's the circumstances of life," she said. "You can live a normal life and one incident puts you in a place where you need help. It's good to have places to go when you need help."
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.