Anderson County woman spearheads summer food program for kids

CLINTON (WATE) – A lot of families rely on schools to make sure their kids are properly fed, but when the school year ends many have nowhere to turn.

One woman in Anderson County decided she could help fill that void, and dozens of her community members have jumped in to help. It all started with an idea and a phone call from a woman who’s been there.

“At the end of the school year, they had gotten a grant and we were one of the families that actually got the donation for a food basket, so I said why not give back to the community?” said Markiesha Bazel.

Bazel saw a need and an opportunity.

“Hunger is a big issue in so many counties. I just didn’t want to see kids be hungry,” she said.

Within just a couple weeks it went from that initial phone call to Second Harvest to the scene at Clinton Middle School Wednesday. The food bank delivering a pallet load of food to the school. Volunteers unloaded it and repacked it into plastic bags to be given to kids in Anderson County.

Markiesha Bazel

“Our regular food for kids program that operates during the school year is able to serve more than 12,000 kids in 265 schools across our 18 county service area. In the summer we’re only able to reach about half that number,” said Sam Compton, Youth Programs Manager at Second Harvest.

In Monday’s load, Second Harvest was able to bring about six weeks worth of food that will supply 90 kids.

Related: Text service helps East Tennesseans find free breakfast, lunch during summer months

“Basically the community came together because this woman made a phone call and looked to find a way to help, and now we’re going to be able to serve close to 100 kids with food they wouldn’t have had,” Compton said.

Volunteers from the school and from Zion Baptist Church pitched in to fill the bags. It was a sight almost too much for Markiesha to bear.

“It was a big help just to see that not only do I care for children, they do too,” she said, teary-eyed.

“Just to put a smile on a child’s face, knowing I can sleep good tonight because they’re not going to bed hungry,” Bazel said.

Second Harvest says having contacts like Bazel who let them know of specific needs is key to what they do. They can fill a backpack with food for only $2.25, and they can serve a child every week of the school year for $100.

Bazel’s idea started as a simple gesture, and turned into a movement. She also has started a hot meals program providing hot lunches for kids in her neighborhood three days a week.

For more information and to learn how to get involved in Second Harvest’s Food For Kids program you can reach Compton at (865) 243-8221 or

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