Two local food ministries are the recipients of an annual canned tuna drive by Sevier County 4-H members.
The boats are docked. The nets are drawn. 2016 has been another outstanding fishing trip for Sevier County 4-H Members. For the past 15 years, Sevier County 4-H members have set sail on a fall fishing excursion that benefits Sevier County Food Ministries in Sevierville and CROSS Ministry in Seymour. This year’s total netted a donation of over 2,100 cans of tuna and $1,500 for these local food ministries. Beginning in 2012, 4-H decided to send the Seymour 4-H Clubs donations to CROSS Food Ministry to meet needs in the Seymour community.
The annual service project “4-H Hooked on Helping Hunger” tuna drive began in 2001 as an opportunity for 4-H members to learn about local needs and then take action. It’s held each year in conjunction with the countywide 4-H Officer Training Workshop.
“In 2001 we approached the Sevier County Food Ministries Director at that time, Steve Streibig, inquiring about specific items of need and he suggested cans of tuna,” said Glenn K Turner, Sevier County 4-H agent. It is a somewhat specialty item that can be expensive for the ministry to purchase, but is a good protein source. Those served by the food ministry see tuna as a special treat.
The goal of the tuna drive each year is one can per 4-H member with the slogan “One Can, Can Make a Difference.” With over 3,500 4-H members one can does make a difference. Each year that goal is surpassed.
“When the project began in 2001, 50 cents would easily buy a can of tuna. Of course now it’s up closer to one dollar. When promoting the project we encourage 4-H’ers to consider giving up a soft drink or snack and put that money toward a few cans of tuna,” Turner said.
This approach seems to have worked over the years. 51,050 cans of tuna and over $21,000 have been donated to the food ministries since 2001. “It’s nice to reach the 50,000 can and $20,000 milestones,” Turner says. “That’s one big fish.”
Jim Davis, director of the Sevier County Food Ministries says, “Sevier County 4-H has become a faithful partner to the food ministry. When 4-H began the tuna project fifteen years ago, we were serving about 800 families each week. Today that number has grown to 1700 per week. It is nice to know we can count on this donation each fall. It enables us to plan for our weekly food distribution. We are thankful for the monetary donation as well, as that will allow us to purchase food at 19 cents a pound from Second Harvest.”
4-H members have learned to put into practice the 4-H pledge by using their “Hands for larger service.” They are learning that they can make a difference in the community. If you are not aware of the great things going on at the Sevier County Food Ministries, 4-H members invite you to visit Davis and see how you could be involved. He can be contacted at 865-428-5182. Sevier County Food Ministries is located next to the Sevier County Fairgrounds, at 890 Old Knoxville Highway in Sevierville.
CROSS Food Ministry is located at 406 Boyds Creek Highway in Seymour.