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Putting Hunger in the Penalty Box

Putting Hunger in the Penalty Box

One in six people in Middle Tennessee don’t know where their next meal is coming from. To help feed these hungry neighbors, we teamed up with the Nashville Predators on March 24 for our fourth game-day food drive since 2014. With the help of our employee volunteers, we’ve collected enough food and funds from all four drives to provide nearly 60,000 meals for Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

Mother Nature was not a cooperative partner at our latest food drive and it rained most of the day in Nashville on March 24, diminishing participation from drive-up donors who’d meet our volunteers outside as well as working-downtown professionals who’d visit on foot. Our 40 employee volunteers braved the downpour and improvised with walks up and down infamous Broadway proclaiming “one dollar provides four meals” while accepting donations in red plastic buckets under trusty umbrellas.

At past drives we had food trucks, music, and games, but we made due indoors with a prize wheel that included Predators merchandise and UnitedHealthcare branded giveaways. I got to witness a few people root for the mystery prize slot which yielded such gems as a puck signed by “Mr. Underwood” himself, Mike Fisher.

The best part of the day for me was watching a young boy, who came to volunteer with his mom, collect donations at a busy gate right before puck dropped. As excited fans rushed past him he’d peer up and meekly say, “Help feed the hungry.” I got to see a few people abruptly stop in their tracks, pull out some change and fill his bucket, which caused his cheeks to blush and a smile to take over his round, little face.

In six hours we collected 1,000 pounds of food and $2,492, which is enough to provide 11,000 meals. At the end of the day, though our feet were tired and our throats were hoarse, our hearts were full, imagining the empty plates we helped fill.

Jaime McKenzie is a social responsibility program manager for UnitedHealthcare.

Click here to see pictures from this project.

About Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee

Organized in 1978, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee is a private, not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization. Second Harvest’s mission is to feed hungry people and work to solve hunger issues in our community. Second Harvest distributes food and other products to approximately 450 nonprofit partner agencies in 46 counties in middle and west Tennessee. Our partners include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, childcare facilities, senior centers, group homes and youth enrichment programs. For more information on Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and its programs, please visit secondharvestmidtn.org.


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