Hunger Hike for Empty Cupboards

The annual 2.25-mile Hunger Hike Oct. 4 will benefit churches and food pantries that work together to coordinate food assistance programs. Entrants recruit sponsors and make a $15 donation to a designated food pantry served by Second Harvest Food Bank, which is a major food supplier for local pantries but does not distribute food directly. Here are some of the numbers that underline the importance of raising funds for the local hungry:

More than 71,000 people in Knox County and 245,000 in East Tennessee are at risk of going hungry.

From June 2008 to July 2009, Second Harvest distributed nearly 13 million pounds of food through pantries in its 18 county region.

In 2008-2009, Second Harvest delivered more than 812,000 meals a month through 535 food provider agencies to more than 155,000 children, adults, and seniors.

More than 9,500,000 meals last year were provided to hungry people, but Second Harvest estimates this meets just one-fourth of the total need to eliminate hunger in East Tennessee.

In 2007, there was an 8 percent increase in the number of local pantries applying for the Federal Emergency Food and Shelter program food portion.

In 2008, the number of pantries applying rose by another 8 percent.

Knox County Food Stamp participation increased 28.3 percent from 2002 to 2007.

Source: Second Harvest Food Bank and Knox County Health Department