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"Summer Food Programs Expand" - News Article

The Greeneville Sun, July 11, 2017

Summer Food Programs Expand

By Cameron Judd, Sun Staff Writer
All images courtesy of The Greeneville Sun, Photographer:  Cameron Judd

Thanks to the enterprise and work of a young scout working toward Eagle Scout ranking, children living in a large mobile home complex in Greeneville have a shaded, sheltered place to enjoy both breakfast and lunch this summer.

And thanks to the work of the Second Harvest Food Bank and a variety of individual, corporate and organizationally based supporters, there is more and better food for those children to enjoy, brought straight to their mobile home park by a new, beautifully styled and outfitted van.

Second Harvest unveiled a brand new pavilion shelter at Bolton Park in Greeneville Monday morning.  The sprawling mobile home complex received a visit Monday from Second Harvest’s executive director and supporting staffers, key backers from the community, volunteers and the young man who made the new outdoor dining pavilion a reality: 15-year-old Boy Scout Hayden Guevara, of Jonesborough, Troop 240.

Photo:  Hayden Guevara, a Boy Scout from Jonesborough who conceived and built, with volunteer assistance, the pavilion seen behind him at Greeneville’s Bolton Mobile Home Park, attends Monday’s “unveiling” of the new structure by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee.  Second Harvest will use the pavilion as a place to feed Bolton Park children during the summer through a program designed to ensure food security when schools are closed.

According to information provided by Second Harvest Monday at Bolton Park, the Bolton site is the program’s second largest Summer Food Service location, and one that for some time has been in need of advancement and improvement.

Guevera, seeking a community project to help him work toward Eagle Scout status, asked Second Harvest what he might do to help their work.

When he learned of the needs at Bolton Park, the idea of creating the shelter was born, and Guevera stepped up to do it.  With support from volunteers from the community and the U-Turn for Christ organization, along with some building supply donations and about three days of hard volunteer labor, with as many as 10 workers on site on some of those days, the project sailed through to completion.

Guevara, though soft-spoken and seeming inclined to duck the attention being turned on him Monday, did speak, once introduced, of his gratification at seeing a project he guided through to completion providing a tangible benefit to the 25 to 30 children now being served breakfast and lunch at the shelter.

The shelter also has become a recreation area as well, thanks to playground equipment placed near the shelter by the management of Bolton Park.

Guevara thanked the several volunteers who helped him put the sturdy, metal-roofed pavilion together and voiced appreciation for the work done by Second Harvest and its partnering agencies.

The Summer Food Program in Greeneville and Greene County is sponsored by The Laughlin Healthcare Foundation, which along with the Power Tool Company of Johnson City contributed to the Bolton Park shelter.

Second Harvest Executive Director Rhonda Chafin addressed those gathered at the shelter event and described the significance of the Bolton project.

“Bolton has actually been a mobile site (for the Summer Food Program) for the last four years, and this year, we needed a shelter because we had so many kids we could not put them on the school bus.  So we’re really excited about receiving this new shelter,” she said.

“We’re also excited about the partnerships we have here that have made our Summer Food Program possible,” Chafin continued.  “Second Harvest’s mission is to feed the hungry in Northeast Tennessee by securing and distributing food, and by engaging the community” in support, she said.

“One of our goals is to combat child hunger.  In 2009 we started the Summer Food Service project, and we’ve grown from that time.  We started out with one site in Sullivan County, and I’m really excited to announce that we’re well over 70 sites, if not close to 80 sites, throughout the six-county area we serve.”

Census data from 2015, the most recent available, Chafin said, “shows that one of four children under the age of 18 — that’s 24,060 children — live in poverty in Northeast Tennessee.  School breakfast and lunch programs have helped ensure that children don’t go hungry during the school year, but what happens on the weekends and summer breaks when they do not have access to food?”

She went on: “This is where the Summer Food Service program comes in.  The Food Bank has received continuous support from ConAgra Foods.  We have four buses that ConAgra has funded over the years, and this year the food bank received a ConAgra Hunger-Free Summer Grant to expand our Summer Food Services program to include a van specifically designed for produce deliveries.  It’s called the Veggie Van.”

The Veggie Van, colorfully decorated and outfitted for food delivery, already was parked near the shelter, and according to Second Harvest personnel on the scene, is to be further improved in coming months by the addition of interior refrigeration to help keep produce cool and fresh.

Photo:  Second Harvest Food Bank’s new “Veggie Van” made a public appearance Monday at Greeneville’s Bolton Mobile Home Park, and brought with it breakfast and lunch for children in the large residential complex.

Currently pre-chilled produce is covered by a heavy thermal blanket to keep it cold in the rear of the van during delivery.

This summer, Chafin said, the food bank’s summer lunch program will serve over 80 sites.  “We will also be distributing food boxes.  And we’re so excited to have wonderful partnerships in our area,” she said.

She introduced Betty Weemes, director of Laughlin Healthcare Foundation, and described that foundation’s three-year support of Second Harvest through its Derby Day on Main fundraising event, which this year, Chafin noted, raised $31,000 for the Summer Food Service program.

Photo:  Betty Weemes, left, who directs the Laughlin Healthcare Foundation, chats with Rhonda Chafin, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee, Monday at Bolton Park in Greeneville.  The Laughlin foundation is one of the partnering agencies that supports Second Harvest each year. 

She also cited help Second Harvest receives from the Share Our Strength — No Kid Hungry campaign, which provides drivers, fuel and other needed helps for the program.

Arby’s Hometown Heroes, Nuclear Fuel Services and Forward Air also were specifically cited for their history of support, and Hayden Guevera was again praised for his unusual individual contribution.

More detailed descriptions of “partner support” were included in the news release distributed in conjunction with the announcements.

That release notes:

“In addition to the Feeding America ConAgra FY17 Hunger-free Summer Classic grant and the Laughlin Healthcare Foundation, Second Harvest Summer Food Service Program is also supported by other grants and donations:  a Share Our Strength Inc. No Kid Hungry Grant of $50,000, a $2,000 grant from No Kid Hungry Arby’s Hometown Heroes, a donation of $1,000 from Nuclear Fuel Services, Unicoi County; a donation of $5,450 from Forward Air Inc., and donations from many individuals and organizations.

“The Summer Food Service Program runs through the end of July.  Any child in need of lunch can participate.  A list of sites can be found at”

Among those present at Monday’s presentation were more than a dozen Bolton Park children, who were served breakfast, and later, lunch, both provided by Second Harvest.

According to the Second Harvest news release, approximately 10.5 million pounds of food and grocery products were distributed by Second Harvest’s food bank during fiscal year 2016, serving more than 40,000 individuals per month.  More information is available at or by calling 423-279-0430.