February 28, 2024

Smokey’s Pantry provides food for UT community

Local food bank, Smokey’s Pantry, runs on donations, volunteers and the satisfaction of its guests.

Smokey’s Pantry continues to require nothing and offer everything to community members in need of food and hygiene products.

Approximately two years since Smokey’s Pantry opened in the Tyson House, the food pantry is experiencing similar success in day-to-day operations. The pantry stands by the guarantee that qualifying information is never required to receive free groceries.

“We are just happy to be here every day serving food and being here to help,” Smokey’s Pantry intern Caitlynne Fox said. “Our partnership with FISH Hospitality has revolutionized what we do, and that has been going on since the beginning.”

Smokey’s Pantry of Knoxville, Tenn. requests that guests only take certain amounts of product so as to be able to provide for more people. Photo/Ainsley Kelso

FISH Hospitality is a non-profit, volunteer ran organization that helps provide food to families in Knoxville and surrounding areas. They provide a large variety of items to the pantry such as bread, dairy products and even frozen meat.

As the program grows, the pantry continues to receive various donations––both time and products––from volunteers and other partnering organizations.

“As the pantry has gotten older, we have had more collaborations with UT programs and community members,” Fox said. “We have several people from the [agriculture] campus that bring us fresh produce, and UT Recycling gave us all the shelves in there right now.”

Caitlynne Fox stocks shelves with donated groceries in Smokey’s Pantry located in Knoxville, Tenn. on Sept. 4, 2018. Photo/Ainsley Kelso

Volunteers keep the pantry running. Freshman Sam Kilgore sought out the opportunity to volunteer after running his own food bank at Ooltewah High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“I ran it [the food pantry] out of my high school for my Eagle project for Boy Scouts. I had a few other people work with me, and now they are running it,” Kilgore said. “I did not really interact with the people there but to interact with the people here [Smokey’s Pantry] that we are helping out is really gratifying.”

Students, faculty and community members are welcome to stop by when the pantry is open on Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m. The pantry is located in the Tyson House across the street from the Golden Roast off of Cumberland Ave.

“We have enough food for our homeless neighbors and we have enough food for college students,” Fox said. “A big thing with the food pantry is to destigmatize taking food and needing help. Everyone needs help, it’s just varying levels of help.”

For more information on Smokey’s Pantry, visit their official Facebook page.

Featured Image by Ainsley Kelso

Edited by Chelsea Babin

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