Seniors are Chillin’
by Danny Wade
Two Humboldt organizations and another in Trenton received a nice donation that will greatly impact their mission of feeding those in need. The Senior Citizen Center and Helping Hand in Humboldt, along with the University of Tennessee Extension Gibson County in Trenton all received funding to purchase refrigerators and/or freezers.
Amerigroup Tennessee donated $70,000 worth of commercial refrigerators and/or freezers to 20 food pantries and community organizations across Tennessee, according to a company press release. Funding will allow community-serving organizations to increase food storage capacity, replace old and outdated units, and preserve meat, dairy and fresh vegetables in order to keep up with the ongoing need and demand for impacted individuals, families and seniors in the community.
In Humboldt, Helping Hand and the Senior Citizens Center received over $2,000 each. The Senior Citizen Center used the funds to purchase a new $3,000 Samsung refrigerator-freezer, according to director Archie Cox. Cox and her staff, along with the senior citizens they serve are thrilled to have the new refrigerator-freezer. It’s like Christmas came early for them.
“They (Amerigroup) sent us a check last month,” said Cox. “We already have a refrigerator and a freezer but this adds more space. We can have more variety (of foods).”
Helping Hand of Humboldt used their funding to go toward a commercial walk-in freezer, according to director Sharon Hartig. They have the unit in boxes but need to pour a concrete floor for the freezer.
“A commercial refrigerator/freezer will greatly expand our cold storage and allow us to store entire pallets of cold foods for those in need,” Hartig noted.
Many food distribution organizations have to turn down donations due to the inability to store items that require a refrigerator and/or freezer, as stated in the press release. As Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaches, these donations afford the opportunity to take in more perishable and fresh foods that will last longer and provide low-income communities with the resources they need which sometimes can be taken for granted.
As many communities and families struggle to make ends meet during the pandemic, access to and selection of perishable products are more important than ever. Through the donation of commercial refrigeration and freezer units, food pantries and community organizations can increase their food inventory.
Second Harvest Food Bank was another recipient of the Amerigroup donations. Many non-profits use Second Harvest as their main supplier of food, including Helping Hand and Mustard Seed in Milan.
“Amerigroup’s generous contribution enabled six of our partner agencies to purchase refrigerators and freezers to expand the cold storage at their food pantries. This cold storage expansion enables them to provide additional food items such as dairy, meat, and produce that they could not have otherwise provided,” said Rhonda Chafin, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee executive director. “Amerigroup’s financial support greatly increases the capacity of our partner agencies to serve their local communities including rural and urban locations and a college campus. We are grateful for Amerigroup’s gift that comes at a time of unprecedented need for food assistance.”
Data from Feeding America shows one in seven Tennesseans struggles with hunger and one in six children are food insecure, according to the press release. Research indicates that poor nutrition, often a result of food insecurity, is a leading risk factor for many chronic conditions, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and other diet-related diseases.
“Amerigroup Tennessee has continued to work with our community organizations and partners to find innovative solutions to solve for food insecurity, especially during times of increased need,” said Robert Garnett, plan president, Amerigroup Tennessee.
“This donation will provide for better and more reliable food distribution and support services for those individuals that are seeking access to healthy food. Amerigroup Tennessee is committed to improving and expanding services for affordable and healthy food options for our local communities as we play a crucial role in improving the overall health of Tennesseans.”
“It’s a delight to have this new fridge for the center,” Cox said. “It will help us, especially with the pandemic, to get more food in and distribute more food out.”