The state’s Senate Majority Leader, Mark Norris (R-Collierville), launched the Tennessee Nutrition Caucus earlier this month, bringing legislators and multiple organizations together to address the ever-growing issue of hunger relief.
On Tuesday, March 25, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) was invited to participate alongside other groups engaged in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, including the Feeding America, Mid-South Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank, The Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the Tennessee Farm Bureau, and the YMCA.
“Our long-term goal is to provide an appropriate forum to find solutions to malnutrition – legislative, public, private and volunteer – and put them to work,” said Leader Norris at the press conference announcing the initiative. “Reducing unemployment through healthier lifestyles, eliminating food deserts, encouraging urban gardening, harvests for the hungry and community education events – these are just a few examples of what we can do together to make a meaningful difference in the lives of all Tennesseans.”
Norris was joined by Senators Steven Dickerson, M.D. (R-Nashville) and Delores Gresham (R-Somerville), as well as Representatives Curtis Halford (R-Dyer), Jason Powell (D-Nashville) and Joe Towns (D-Memphis), in making the announcement. TWF Chief Executive Officer Mike Butler shared highlights from Hunters for the Hungry, which this year crossed the million-pound threshold of donated venison that is distributed to food banks and soup kitchens across the state.
“Hunger relief agencies struggle with finding consistent protein resources, and meat is very expensive,” Butler said. “Utilizing a healthy, plentiful, renewable natural resource in our state’s native whitetail deer, we have dedicated approximately four million meals to the fight against hunger, at no cost to the food banks or the end users. It’s a tremendous asset, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. We are very pleased to be a part of the Nutrition Caucus and applaud Senator Norris’s leadership on the issue.”