University of TN - Lake County
Project Summary

The University of Tennessee and the Northwest TN Economic Development Council have formed a partnership that has allowed both organizations to work toward improving coordination of programs and barriers preventing families with children from participating in nutrition assistance programs in Lake County. The Northwest TN Economic Development Council is a non-profit agency in Lake County that helps communities in nine northwest counties access resources for nutrition, energy, emergencies, education.

Through the RCPNC grant, a community needs assessment was completed and several high priority barriers families with children face in accessing nutrition assistance in Lake County were identified. We found that many of the community members as well as community providers had a lack of awareness about the different resources available in Lake County. They Lake County lacks public transportation or a taxi cab service in this rural community. People shared that their lack of transportation made it difficult to reach resources such as the Reelfoot Rural Ministry food pantry. Another barrier we face is the social stigma related to poverty. Those who need the help the most are usually embarrassed or afraid to seek help or just lost at how to maneuver through resource trails. Those who are more fortunate have misconceptions about those living in poverty.

Lack of physical resources is another barrier. During the school year, every child that attends a Lake County School receives a free breakfast and a free lunch no matter what the family income is. Lake County School System has received a grant that handles this. However, during the summer, many of these children do not get food every day and go hungry. A summer feeding program is vital to this area.

We have decided on two big projects that will have funding from this grant and several smaller projects that will be provided by in-kind donation of time and materials from coalition partners. Our two big projects will be:

  • Summer Feeding Programs in Ridgely, TN and possible another site for Tiptonville sinceit is a bigger community. Tiptonville does have one well-established site so our firstfocus is Ridgely. This will be a USDA sponsored feeding program.
  • Create, produce and distribute to residents of Lake County Community Resource Book.This would help to increase participation in available resources by creating awareness.This would also be a part of the Web page for our citizens who have internet access.

Our smaller projects would include poverty-awareness classes to address stigma and working with faith based partners to reduce barriers of transportation to grocery stores and food distributions.

Targeting Nutrition Assistance Programs: WIC, SFSP, SBP, NSLP, and other program of USDA Commodities, Mid-South Mobile Food Pantry, and emergency food pantries in Lake County.