SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — In every corner of this state, there is a child, who at this moment, does not know whether they will have dinner tonight. Each county has its own struggles, and some are far worse than others.
One Sumner County man is determined to feed the children in his community.
“Should have around 300 boxes to go out,” said Daniel Stephens, director, Feed Sumner Food Bank and Ministry, as he takes News 2’s Mark Kelly around his warehouse.
Daniel Stephens did not always run a food bank. He used to serve as a Hendersonville police officer and saw first-hand the struggles that are out there.
“Overwhelmed, overwhelmed by the majority of the people around here that truly needed food,” said Stephens.
Stephens joined Feed Sumner this year. The organization has been filling the gap left behind when the Sumner County Food Bank closed. Surprised by the number of children who are food insecure, even in a wealthier county like Sumner, he hopes to reverse those high numbers.
“They don’t have electricity; they don’t have a stove; they don’t have a microwave, and that’s Sumner County. So, if that’s Sumner County, imagine how things are in the surrounding counties as well.”
We looked at surrounding counties. Most recent numbers from 2020 show a startling number of children who are food insecure, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as a lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life.
Davidson County had the highest number of food insecure children at 27,420.
Here are the statistics from other Middle Tennessee counties:
- Rutherford: 9,840
- Sumner: 5,400
- Wilson: 3,240
- Robertson: 2,120
- Williamson: 1,450
- Cheatham: 920
To try and get these numbers lower, Stephens keeps coming back to one word – alignment. He wants all the big players – food banks, mental health care, schools, churches – aligning all on the same page, instead of always reinventing the wheel. And at least one big institution is already on board, C.I.L. Church in Hendersonville.
“There is always going to be a child that’s hungry, or there’s always going to be a widow that needs food. But at the very same time, we want to say there will always be a food bank, or there will always be a church that’s willing to meet that need,” said Jacob Bell, community life pastor, C.I.L. Church.
These men are only a few months into this journey, but they say change is closer.
“It’s starting to happen now. The ball is just getting rolling.”
When it comes to making sure our children are fed, the wealth gap also comes up. Feeding America points to the fact that Black families’ median wealth is 15% that of white families’. And for Latino families, that number is 20%.
News 2 investigates why the number of children classified as homeless is rising in our area and what’s being done to help them in our special reports – “Homeless Children”.