By Crystal Burns
With face masks and gloves on, Gibson County UT Extension leaders handed out 50 bags of food to residents from all over the county Thursday afternoon in Trenton.
Barbara Berry, county director, and LaQuita Clark, program assistant, quickly gave away the free food to people who have taken the Tennessee Nutritional & Consumer Education Program (TNCEP) classes UT Extension offers locally.
Clark teaches the courses, which show class members how to prepare healthy, budget-friendly meals. Clark also goes into the community to host nutrition programs as requested.
Thursday, she and Berry provided their former class members with canned goods, frozen vegetables, boxed meals, peanut butter, and frozen chicken. Tyson Foods and Picsweet donated to the giveaway.
The Extension office also gave away free face masks.
The county agency established its food pantry in 2019. The agency solicits donations and can accept fresh and frozen products. Wish list items include bran cereals, whole wheat bread, bread or muffin mixes, cold and hot cereals, dry noodles and pasta, flour, graham crackers, granola bars, infant cereal, mac and cheese mixes, noodle mixes, oatmeal, pancake mix, popcorn, rice and rice mixes, shredded wheat, whole-grain crackers, corn flakes, evaporated milk, fresh milk, yogurt and cheese, canned tomato products, canned vegetables, fresh and frozen vegetables, spaghetti sauce, vegetable juice, honey, jelly and jam, mayonnaise, salad dressings, syrup, vegetable oils, vegetable sprays, apple sauce, canned and boxed 100% fruit juice, canned fruit, dried fruit, fresh and frozen fruit, canned and dry beans, canned chicken, canned tuna or salmon, fresh or frozen meat, poultry and fish, and peanut butter.
Berry said they try to do food giveaways on a quarterly basis. She noted the increase in demand since the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic increase in unemployment. According to statistics released by the state Thursday, Gibson County’s unemployment rate rose to 12.1% in April.
The county Extension office is currently closed to face-to-face interactions. If you would like to donate to the food pantry or want more information on TNCEP, call 731-855-7656.