It's November – the month of heading into the holiday season, indulging in festive Thanksgiving food and being intentional when it comes to gratitude and giving back. The giving part of the season is even more important in a year like 2020, with a pandemic that has challenged us in many ways, including economically. Pew Research Center says the unemployment rate may have gone as high as 16% during the COVID-19 pandemic, by the U.S. government's estimate. With that comes additional food insecurity for people across the country.
The Chattanooga Area Food Bank serves about 18 zip codes through voucher and emergency food box programs. Approximately 10% of requests are from the Brainerd zip code, 37411. In response, the Chamber's MidTown Council convened community stakeholders to help fight hunger in their footprint by creating the Brainerd Community Food Pantry. The Pantry opened Oct. 14 at Brainerd United Methodist Church as faith-based, business and nonprofit community partners work together to fight hunger.
"The Brainerd community has seen a significant increase in the need for food from its most vulnerable residents. The time to act and come together to care for our neighbors is now," says Bess Steverson, MidTown Council President and the Food Pantry's Advisory Board Chair.
The Brainerd Community Food Pantry is modeled after the Red Bank Community Pantry, which serves 175 families, about 800 people, twice a month. Due to the size of the Brainerd community, the Food Pantry Advisory Board anticipates serving a larger number of families and individuals.
You can fight hunger too
Get involved today by volunteering to:
● Help with second or fourth Wednesday operation
● Help organize food on shelves and move delivered food to the pantry
● Help recruit businesses to hold food drives
● Help unpack food or pack boxes in the days before the food pantry runs
● Help find corporate and local business sponsors
● Help pick up food from food drives and retail locations
Volunteers can commit to helping once a month, twice a month, every other month or as their schedule permits. Groups can volunteer together.
Like the Red Bank Pantry, the Brainerd Community Food Pantry partners with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank to access resources the food bank offers through their association with Feeding America, such as bulk buying power. Through this partnership, financial donations to the Brainerd Community Food Pantry allow for buying in bulk from the Chattanooga Food Bank at a discounted rate, providing four meals per $1.
Brainerd Community Food Pantry distribution is twice monthly:
* Second Wednesday of the month from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
* Fourth Wednesday of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
To access food, those in need should call 211, United Way's local resource hotline, to receive a voucher for their nearest partner agency.