“It came out of a discussion between me and some people at church,” Donny says. “We were concerned about children being hungry.”
TNKids, a United Way partner agency, serves Robertson, Cheatham, Montgomery, Sumner and northern Davidson counties. They operate an after-school snack program in 37 locations. Two years ago, they were serving 8,000 students a month. Now, it’s 8,000 a day.
“It’s opened the eyes of some people to needs that they weren’t seeing before.”
There are so many families who need help providing food at home. That’s where TNKids’ backpack program comes in—and it’s funded 100 percent by donations. Each week, schools reach out to TNKids to let them know how many backpacks of food they need. Schools then distribute the backpacks confidentially to children to take home to fill their pantries.
“I’ve had people say to me, ‘My kids were on that program when we were having a rough time and those sacks of food were really helpful. It gave them something to eat over the weekend until they could get back to school and get their school breakfast and lunch.’ ”
TNKids started up their summer feeding program this past summer because that out-of-school time is where the biggest need is, Donny says. They bought a refrigerated box truck and would fill it with sack breakfasts and lunches. They’d drive the same route everyday—and every day, he says, the same kids would show up to pick up food for themselves and their families.
“I hate seeing kids that are disadvantaged in any way,” Donny says. “I know that one way we can help them is by giving them food. That’s the least we can do for them.”