FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — Times are tough, and a Franklin nonprofit is seeing proof of that, as the amount of families experiencing food insecurity is up compared to last year.

Just this year, One Generation Away (OneGenAway) said the average number of Middle Tennessee households needing food from its Mobile Pantry increased by 17% compared to 2022 data.

“With food costs going up, job security not where it used to be and people being laid off, we’re just seeing more people coming to these food events. Food costs are drastically increased to 20%,” said Scott Lucas, director of operations for OneGenAway.

At their Mobile Pantry, OneGenAway officials said they’ve been seeing people trying to make ends meet from one paycheck to the next.

“We hear the saying that people are one paycheck away, right? That’s probably what’s happening right now and I think we’re seeing people that aren’t used to being in a food line,” said Chris Whitney, founder and CEO of OneGenAway.

The nonprofit organization believes those numbers could increase up to 25% or higher later this year.

“I know these numbers are alarming, but that’s why we exist. That’s why food pantries exist, to help people walk through a difficult season. It’s a matter of what we have to do to meet the need. That’s really what it’s all about,” Whitney said.

To meet even more needs, OneGenAway recently launched a home delivery program in Williamson County called the Doorstep Pantry for those impacted by high gas prices, as well as those who have transportation and mobility barriers.

“Folks that are food insecure, 40% of them are also vehicle insecure. So it doesn’t do a whole lot of good to have 30,000 pounds of food in a parking lot if they’re not able to get there to get that food. So, the Doorstep Pantry allows us to go directly to people’s front doors. On Friday afternoon when they get home, there’s going to be a bag of about 18 to 20 pounds of nonperishable groceries waiting on them,” Lucas said.

On top of its Mobile Pantry and Doorstep Pantry, OneGenAway also rescues food six days a week from grocery stores, restaurants and many other places across Middle Tennessee.

“Food that is in that restaurant that is still viable food, they then donate it to us instead of throwing it away. So we’re able to take that food and the food that we rescue in the morning, is typically on somebody’s table that night,” Whitney said.

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OneGenAway said it rescued almost 2 million pounds of food in about 27 stores last year.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the nonprofit can find more information here.