USDA Farmers to Families Program Aids Thousands
Since the first USDA Farmers-to-Families food box distribution in October, nearly 11,000 family food boxes totaling 297,600 pounds of milk and protein products, apples, onions and potatoes have been distributed throughout Hardeman County. These numbers do not include foods distributed through Mid-South Food Bank distributions.
Stephanie Middleton, University of Tennessee Extension program assistant, coordinated the project with the regional food contractor and 20 to 30 volunteers. “I want to personally thank the volunteers who came out to help unload pallets of food, greet patrons, hand out information, direct traffic and load food boxes into cars. We could not have done this without them. First Baptist (in Middleton) served as a gracious host each time,” Middleton said. “I think the volunteers enjoyed themselves and gave themselves the nickname ‘#TeamComeAndGetIt’,” she continued. Volunteers included homeschool students, Middleton city employees, retirees, Hardeman County Master Gardeners, Hardeman County Sheriff’s Department and trustees, Loaves and Fishes representatives, and Middleton Police Department.
Churches and other groups picked up bulk amounts of boxes for delivery to shut-ins and other individuals in their communities who could not travel to Middleton. These included churches—Bolivar: Abundant Life, Campbell’s Chapel, Dixie Hills Baptist; Grand Junction: Rivers of Life; Hickory Valley: Centerpointe; Hornsby: First Baptist; Middleton: Calvary Baptist, Church of Christ, First Baptist, Bethel, Middleton Primitive Baptist, Oak Grove Independent Baptist; Pocahontas Church of Christ and First Baptist; Saulsbury: New Visions Ministries, and Whiteville: Union Hill Baptist; and schools—Bolivar Central, Middleton Elementary, Middleton High, and Whiteville Elementary. The Warrior Center also used boxes to prepare hot meals for local veterans and homeless individuals.
The USDA Farmers to Families program has been funded through the First Coronavirus Response Act to redirect food from closures of restaurants and other food businesses. These food distributions allowed Hardeman Healthy Outreach to continue improving access to healthy foods during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This project is funded by the CDC’s High Obesity Program (HOP) through The University of Tennessee Extension to improve access to food and physical activity opportunities throughout Hardeman County. For more information, go to @BeMoreHardeman on Facebook.