In May 2017, the Chattanooga Area Food Bank was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Arby’s Foundation, through the Georgia Food Bank Association, to help fund the “Helping Hands Ending Hunger” (HHEH) program in Chattooga County, Ga.
Chattooga is one of nine Northwest Georgia counties the Chattanooga Area Food Bank serves throughout their 20-county service area, where 1,580 children have been identified as being food insecure, which equates to one in four children.
The “Helping Hands Ending Hunger” program was established in Chattooga County to address childhood hunger issues and give children an opportunity to “pay it forward” to other children in need. In 2015 and 2016, HHEH piloted a program that collected food products, including prepackaged and unopened crackers, cookies, breakfast bars, cereal, fruit and beverage items, such as milk and juice, which were untouched and uneaten during school breakfasts and lunches in two schools, Leroy Massey Elementary School and Trion City Schools. Once the food was collected, student volunteers distributed the food each week to families in need within their school. In 2016, HHEH partnered with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank to enhance their program through the distribution of fresh produce, along with the items collected from the school cafeteria.
The Arby’s Foundation grant has provided funding to assist HHEH in expanding their program into two additional schools in Chattooga County, including Chattooga High School and Lyerly Elementary School. Over the past several months, the resulting success of the program has created momentum to help the organization further expand into Menlo Elementary School (Chattooga County) and two schools in Walker County, Gilbert Elementary School and Cherokee Ridge Elementary School.
“The Food Bank is committed to combating the childhood food insecurity issue in our area, and we are thankful for the Arby’s Foundation and the Georgia Food Bank Association for stepping up and assisting the wonderful work of the ‘Helping Hands Ending Hunger’ program,” said Laura Kilpatrick, director of Government and Agency Relations for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. “It is our goal to continue to expand this pilot program into other schools located throughout our 20-county service area in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia.”