Skip to main content

Love Thy Neighbor Project

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in...[and] The King said, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35, 40)

Mission and History

The Love Thy Neighbor Project is dedicated to eliminating the barrier of food insecurity for individuals at Tennessee Wesleyan University, as well as throughout the surrounding Athens and McMinn County community.

In the fall of 2013, the Love Thy Neighbor Project was developed by the Center for Service and Leadership staff and an AmeriCorps*VISTA member to address issues of food insecurity in McMinn County. Since opening our doors, students, faculty, and staff at Tennessee Wesleyan have distributed more than 60,000 pounds of food to over 1,500 individuals in need.

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity is a horrific worldwide issue. This is a tremendous problem that affects not only individuals in underdeveloped countries, but also citizens throughout the United States and even those living here in McMinn County. According to Feeding America, hunger in the United States exists for over 50 million people. That is 1 in 6 of the U.S. population – including more than 1 in 5 children. Compared to all regions, the South continuously has the highest poverty rate among families living in rural areas, 28.5%.

Stereotypically, starvation is usually associated with the images seen in UNICEF and Heifer International commercials. However, this generally is not the case in the United States. Victims of food insecurity within in rural communities frequently are overweight and/or suffer from a variety of health issues stemming from poor nutrition. Sadly, this is often due to the inability to afford healthy food options. As a result, these individuals are often forced to rely on low-cost fast food options full of calories, fat, and sodium. The Love Thy Neighbor Project seeks to provide low-income individuals with healthy, fresh foods.

Contact Us!

Liza Day Penney is serving as the AmeriCorps *VISTA with the Love Thy Neighbor Project. The TWU Food Bank and Back Sacks programs are coordinated by Liza.

Chase Freeman is serving as an AmeriCorps *VISTA helping to coordinate the mobile food pantries.

For more information regarding the Love Thy Neighbor Project or to volunteer, donate, or partner on a project, please contact us!

Liza Day Penney

Todd Cox