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ESK students donate enough food for 183 families

The Episcopal School of Knoxville collected 2,742 pounds of groceries for hungry people during the school’s annual food drive, which ended at the Thanksgiving holiday.

That is enough food to feed 183 families of four a three-day supply of food each, according to calculations provided by FISH Hospitality Pantry.

Rule of thumb is that 15 pounds of groceries will feed a family of four for three days.

Jim Wright, director of the city’s FISH program and grandfather to third-grader Caroline Fort and first-grader Julia Fort at The Episcopal School, said about 47,000 people in Knox County live in poverty.

Forty percent of those are children.

“Thousands more live very near the poverty line. The Episcopal School food drive and others like it provide food for families who otherwise wouldn’t have enough food,” Wright added.

Parents delivered the bags of groceries such as rice, beans, macaroni, canned meat, vegetables and fruit, as well as items such as diapers, shampoo, disposable razors and laundry products to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on South Chestnut Street.

The East Knoxville Hospitality Pantry, located at the church, is part of the city’s FISH Pantry network. Third-grade teachers Bruce Ewing and Kathryn Allen said the children will work at a FISH hospitality pantry soon.

For the past eight years, the two third-grade classes at The Episcopal School have conducted this annual drive to collect food for the hungry.

Donors are children and families in each of the K-8 grades at the school. After announcing commencement of the drive at an early morning service in November, the children presented each classroom with a decorated box to hold the donations.

Each class was assigned a request for specific items: paper products from kindergarteners, canned vegetables from first-graders, hygiene products from second- and fourth-graders, dried goods such as beans, pasta and rice from third-graders, canned meats from fifth- and seventh-graders, canned fruit from sixth-graders, and “what you think is needed” from eighth-graders. Third-graders collected from the classes early each morning of the drive.

“Every parent that has come back from delivering food is just overwhelmed at the need in the community. We are all inspired that we are able to effect change as a school. There are people who are hungry and we are feeding them,” Ewing said.

“Having two granddaughters and a grandson, I’m just even more sensitive that all children need adequate nutrition for their little minds to grow and develop,” Wright said.

The Episcopal School held a friendly competition among classes to see which one could bring the most items and the most pounds of groceries. Chris Bishop’s first-grade class won in both categories for the Lower School, with 278 pounds collected and 377 items; and the sixth-grade won for the Middle School, with 126 pounds and 157 items.

FISH Hospitality Pantries, Inc. is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization that provides food packages to more than 6,000 Knoxville families each month. Wright said the Hospitality Pantry at St. Luke’s provides groceries for nearly 3,500 families each month and is the largest provider of food bags in Knoxville. 

The Rev. Gayle Brown is pastor of St. Luke’s.


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