Smokey's Pantry (lead)

Smokey's Pantry is located in the Tyson House, on Melrose Place behind Massey Hall.

According to Feeding America, 12.3% of households in Knox County experienced food insecurity pre-pandemic, and the rate is projected to rise to 13.3% through 2021. With supply-chain issues raising prices on groceries, many in the community are struggling to afford food, let alone all the fancy fixings for the holidays.

If you or someone you know is facing food insecurity, it does not mean you have to miss out on a hearty Thanksgiving meal this year. There are many local resources available including churches and food pantries.

Smokey’s Pantry

Smokey’s Pantry is open every Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m., and it is open to all in the Knoxville community. The pantry operates out of Tyson House, which is located at 824 Melrose Place right outside of Hodges Library. Those interested can also call to schedule an appointment to pick up food and hygiene products outside of normal operating hours, although Tuesday is when there is most likely to be fresh produce and meat. Smokey’s Pantry does not require ID or proof of income, although you may be asked for contact information in case of a food recall.

Big Orange Pantry

Operated out of Greve Hall by the Dean of Students office, Big Orange Pantry was started in 2020 as a way to provide emergency food assistance to students and employees of UT. The pantry is open every weekday afternoon except Tuesday and is, therefore, a helpful alternative to Smokey’s Pantry. Big Orange Pantry recently teamed with the UT Culinary Institute to create the Food4All program, which provides ready-to-eat meals created from unused dining hall food. More information and a link to order forms can be found on the pantry’s website.

FISH Pantries

FISH Hospitality Pantries operates food pantries across Knoxville, including Smokey’s Pantry. Hours vary across locations, which can be found on the FISH website. Anybody, regardless of religious affiliation or socioeconomic background, can pick up food from a FISH pantry and they do not require ID or proof of income.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army operates a handful of offices in Knox County and surrounding counties, many of which have food pantries and can put you in contact with other programs to address your needs. Those interested in seeking help from the Salvation Army are encouraged to call their nearest office for more information or submit a form on their website.

Second Harvest

Second Harvest of East Tennessee serves Knox County and 17 other nearby counties. They do not operate pantries themselves, but they can direct you to resources, especially if there is not an operational pantry near you. Those needing help can call or submit a web form. A list of food pantry locations can be found on their website.

Love Kitchen

The Love Kitchen provides meals and food boxes to housebound, unhoused and unemployed members of the Knoxville community. They are open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those interested are encouraged to reach out over the phone or through email. Contact information can be found on the Love Kitchen website.

Local churches

Several area churches operate food pantries, and many organize free meals or food distribution on Thanksgiving. United Way’s Tennessee 2-1-1 website is an excellent way to search for resources, and you can narrow your search by zip code. Be aware that many churches are abiding by COVID-19 restrictions such as masking or reduced hours, and some will require ID. Take note of each churches’ requirements, and do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions.

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