Middle Tennessee families struggle to find food in summer months

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Thousands of Tennesseans work hard every day to put meals on their table for their family and children and with six kids at home, Cynthia Hutcherson’s grocery list grows and grows each day.

Like thousands of others, her four kids and their two cousins, eat a free breakfast and lunch during the school year.

When school is out, that is when it gets tough for Hutcherson who is on a tight budget.

“When they get home from school in the school year, we are just looking forward to fixing them a dinner,” she explained while shopping in east Nashville.

Programs like Second Harvest’s Hunger Free Summer initiative can help families Hutcherson’s.

According to Second Harvest, in the 46 counties it serves, there is close to 370,000 people who struggle to find where their next meal will come from each day.

Out of those numbers, it is hard for one and five children to find food to eat on a daily basis.

Photo: WKRN

“If a child is hungry, there is probably a sibling at home that is hungry or a parent,” said Chief Operating Officer Kim Molnar.

“In Davidson County, over 70 percent of the children that are served through the public school system, either qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch,” explained Second Harvest founder Jaynee Day.

During the summer months, those statistics rise because many children miss out on the guaranteed breakfast and lunch at school.

“The parents are accustom to having their children fed at school and they’re accustom to being fed at school so when they are home in the summer, it is a real challenge.”

Those challenges put parents in tough positions.

“Our families struggle every day with decisions on whether to pay their utility bill or to buy food.”

This year, their goal is to give out four million meals to children at 20 different sites in Middle Tennessee.

“These summer food service programs that are federal programs are great opportunity to get healthy nutritious meals in a balanced way,” said Molnar.

Photo: WKRN

Many of those sites are at libraries where the staff sees these challenges first hand.

“When the kids are not in school, the library is the next place that they love to come to so we want to make sure that we can help in any way,” said Lisa Bubert, a librarian at the Madison Branch library.

The program is one part of the year round mission for Second Harvest.

“We work soft hunger issues in our community and we feed hungry people.”

The founder of Second Harvest believes by feeding hungry children that can have an impact in all parts of the community.

“Children that don’t receive an adequate diet on a regular basis have many different issues,” said Day.

Hutcherson says making sure your children go to bed on a full stomach is a top priority.

“It is pretty tough, I mean, especially if you don’t have the money to meet your requirements,” she said.

Second Harvest serves breakfast and/or lunch at 20 different sites. For more information, click here.