NASHVILLE (Dec. 17, 2020-SPECIAL TO WLAF) – Students, faculty and staff at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Jacksboro collected or donated 930 food items to lead technical colleges of its size in the College System of Tennessee’s 22nd Annual Food Drive Challenge.

The 18 community and technical colleges across the state that reported their donation totals collected 75,948 items, including $27,859 in monetary donations (each dollar raised counted as two items), for food pantries on their campuses and food banks and organizations in their communities during the month-long food drive that ended Dec. 8.

With food insecurity in the lives of students and in their communities more prevalent due to lost jobs or reduced work hours during the pandemic, this year’s campus food drives were more important than ever. The Annual Food Drive Challenge was conceived by the College System’s Student Government Presidents’ Council 22 years ago as a project to help fellow students and others in their communities in need.

The colleges were grouped by student enrollment and college type to determine winners of the friendly competitive Challenge. The top institutions in each category:

Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology

Tier 1: TCAT Jacksboro – 930 items

Tier 2: TCAT Crump – 2,161 items

Tier 3: TCAT Dickson – 6,154 items 

Community Colleges

Tier 1: Roane State Community College – 6,979 items

Tier 2: Pellissippi State Community College – 31,412 items

The food is donated to campus food pantries, which are open to students in need, as well as local organizations, programs and food banks in the colleges’ broader communities. Twelve of the system’s community colleges and four TCATs have official food pantries but others have smaller food closets or partnerships with local community organizations that provide food assistance to our students.

The colleges hosted traditional food drives on campus or virtual alternative options for monetary contributions or drive-up, drop-off sites due to the pandemic environment. In some cases, food drive planners checked the Feed America website to identify local food banks and explore options of hosting virtual food drives and dropping off items directly at community food banks.

“This year’s Food Drive Challenge was an incredible expression of kindness and generosity across the College System,” said Dr. Heidi Leming, Tennessee Board of Regents Vice Chancellor for Student Success.  “I want to thank everyone on our campuses for the tremendous effort and spirit exemplified during this food drive.”

TCAT Jacksboro decided to combine the beginning of a campus food pantry with the annual food drive.  In addition to the items donated, Charles Clair and Teresa Phillips, Automotive Program, led the efforts to put together holiday food boxes for 26 TCAT Jacksboro students.  “We are grateful for the efforts of our students, faculty, and staff in providing food for several of our students.  Knowing that the students receiving food boxes will not have to worry about how they will provide a holiday meal for their families is the true meaning of the holidays,” stated President Debbie Petree.

The College System of Tennessee, governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents, includes the state’s 13 Community Colleges and 27 Colleges of Applied Technology, serving nearly 140,000 students annually. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 12/22/2020-6AM)