$1 million donation to Chattanooga food bank will help alleviate North Georgia food insecurity

Rising prices and inflation are making it harder for low-income families in Northwest Georgia to put food on the table, but a recent $1 million donation to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank will help meet that need.

The food bank announced the donation from the Chattanooga-based Frank P. Pierce Foundation on Tuesday.

"In my years of serving as legal counsel to Mr. Frank Pierce, I learned that he had a heart for anyone whose circumstances prevented them from adequately providing for themselves, especially for those in the North Georgia area," R. Wayne Peters, trustee for the foundation, said.

Last year, low-income households in Northwest Georgia were spending nearly one-third of their budget on food, and that budget isn't stretching as far as it did even last year, Jennifer Lockwood Fritts, director of community engagement for the food bank, said in a news release. She cited a study by Feeding America from April of 2021.

(READ MORE: Whitfield County approves grant funding for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank's North Georgia expansion)

Rosanne Diehl works for the Christ's Chapel Share and Care Mission in Ringgold, a partner with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, Christ's Chapel Share offers those in need a pre-stocked grocery cart filled with enough canned food, fresh produce, meats, sweets and bread to last a week to 10 days.

Diehl said she's seen a gradual increase in the number of people visiting Christ's Chapel's food bank, blaming the troubled economy. "And I feel like it's going to increase more."

From what she's seen, food need has increased since all the pandemic feeding programs have dissolved, she said.

(READ MORE: Northwest Georgians organize to advocate for new hospital)

A lot of people don't come in until they are desperate, and Diehl said they tell her they don't want to take food from people they think need it more.

"It's sweet of them," but Diehl said she tries to convince them their need is important, too.

The program's goal is to be a hand up, not a hand out, Diehl said, so residents of Georgia can only receive food from Christ's Chapel five times a year. If that's not enough, she said, she tries to connect those in need with other available resources.

(READ MORE: Demand for food assistance in Chattanooga area now exceeds need at the height of pandemic)

For more information on the Christ's Chapel's program, call 706-935-9045. To find food assistance in Tennessee, call 423-622-1800, or for Northwest Georgia, call 706-508-8591. Online, visit ChattFoodBank.org/hungry.

Food insecurity is increasing in all 20 counties served by the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, including the nine counties it serves in Northwest Georgia, Lockwood Fritts wrote. The $1 million donation will serve the counties of Dade, Walker, Catoosa, Whitfield, Murray, Fannin, Chattooga, Gordon and Gilmer.

In a follow-up email, Lockwood Fritts said the Chattanooga Area Food Bank has "a critical need" for volunteers at its Foxwood Food Center. Help is needed sorting and packing food boxes, she wrote.

Contact Andrew Wilkins at awilkins@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @tweetatwilkins.