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Author: Alex Mugridge

Tennessee football: Brian Kelly to LSU may send Nick Saban running, helping VolsCaleb Calhoun

It’s no secret that Tennessee football has had an unfair disadvantage having to play the Alabama Crimson Tide from the West every year with Nick Saban running the show. That’s been an automatic interdivisional loss that nobody else could have. However, Brian Kelly going to the LSU Tigers may change that. For reasons we’ll get […]

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Tennessee Lady Vols now have formula to take pressure off Jordan HorstonCaleb Calhoun

Once Rae Burrell was ruled out indefinitely after an injury in the Tennessee Lady Vols’ season-opening win over the Southern Illinois Salukis, it became clear that Jordan Horston would have to become the star. Of course, she was hurt in that game too, so UT held on. Since then, though, Horston has stepped up. Despite […]

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Tennessee football rooting guide for 2021 Conference Championship gamesCaleb Calhoun

For the 14th straight year, conference championship week arrives with no Tennessee football. However, Vol fans have more excitement this year than they have in a long time given what Josh Heupel is building. Despite not playing, they actually have a stake in all of the games taking place for different reasons. There are two […]

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Tennessee Vols morning report: Kellie Harper talks Tennessee Tech winCaleb Calhoun

A calm first day of December for the Tennessee Vols wasn’t without its own stories. Alontae Taylor made the biggest news with his revelation on Twitter that he would enter the 2022 NFL Draft and not play in the bowl game. Our morning update on Rocky Top leads with continuing coverage of the aftermath of […]

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Hunger Never Takes a HolidayNicole Christensen

These Tennessee food banks provide meals and more to their communities

There were 35 million food-insecure people in the U.S. in 2019, or 10.9 percent of the U.S. population, according to Feeding America’s map on food insecurity. This means that 35 million people in the U.S. did not know how they would get their next meal or from where.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Feeding America estimates that in 2021, more than 42 million Americans are at risk of food insecurity and are struggling with hunger.

This number stems from Feeding America’s study on COVID-19’s impact on food insecurity. The study also says it will likely take time to rebound from the pandemic, listing that it took nearly 10 years for food insecurity numbers to recover from the Great Recession in 2008.

Metro Nashville Public Schools security officers load their vehicle with food to deliver to families without transportation.

“The pandemic certainly exacerbated the food insecurity rates in our country,” said Madison Harmon, communications and digital media coordinator at Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. “Folks who have never had to think about utilizing a food bank are having to seek out their resources.”

There’s more online

Visit to learn ways Tennessee’s electric cooperatives are combating hunger and how Meals on Wheels provides phyical and emotional nourishment.

The South is among the highest populations of food insecurity, and Tennessee is relatively high in the rankings with 13.3 percent of Tennesseans at risk of hunger. Harmon said as more data comes in, the numbers will change.

“While the numbers are hard to grasp as we are still in the midst of the pandemic and will continue to see the effects of it, more than 905,000 people in the state of Tennessee are food insecure,” Harmon said.

There are five food banks in Tennessee that cover all 95 counties in the state: Chattanooga Area Food Bank, Mid-South Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee.

“We are all members of Feeding America and have all stayed very well-connected as we navigated the waters of a global pandemic and beyond,” Harmon said.

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee employee Joe moves food through the warehouse to fulfill agency orders.

A volunteer scoops bulk macaroni noodles to be distributed to partner agencies.

Donations from food drives are collected, sorted and packaged at warehouses to then be distributed to the homes of neighbors.

Volunteers have been wearing masks and gloves and social distancing while distributing food.

The food bank facilities are used to source, acquire, sort and distribute food. Banks receive donated and surplus food from a variety of sources — from grocery stores to farms to manufacturers to individuals — and when all of that food is brought to the warehouses, it is inspected and sorted by volunteers and stored. Food banks also raise funds to buy food at bulk prices and fund feeding programs.

The food is then distributed to the food bank’s partner agencies, including afterschool programs, soup kitchens, senior centers and nonprofits that provide food for hungry people in their communities.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee is one of the largest and most comprehensive of more than 200 food banks and food distribution centers nationwide. In 2020, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee distributed more than 41 million pounds of food to more than 450 partner agencies in Middle and West Tennessee, said Chanel McDaniel, director of marketing and communications at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

“Distributing this food through our network of partner agencies provided more than 36.5 million meals to hungry children, families and seniors throughout our 46-county service area,” McDaniel said.

“Our organization started in 1978 with a purpose to provide a central distribution center for companies, groups and individuals who wished to provide food for hungry people,” McDaniel said. “Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee was designed to collect food that would otherwise be wasted, inspect and sort this food and distribute it to soup kitchens, pantries and shelters serving Tennesseans experiencing hunger.”

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee covers 18 counties with more than 95 agencies. One in five people in East Tennessee lives in poverty and has difficulty meeting basic needs, and Harmon said the food bank is trying to change that statistic within its area.

“Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee strives to take the stigma out of using a food bank,” Harmon said. “Food is a basic human need, and Second Harvest believes that each of our neighbors has the right to have access to food. Our vision is to have adequate nutrition for a healthy life for adults, seniors and children in our 18-county service area.”

Both food banks also offer feeding programs — ranging from ones that help with child hunger to senior outreach programs — to help their communities.

How can people donate to the cause? “Donate food, donate time, donate money,” McDaniel said.

“Food drives are always extremely important to food banks,” Harmon said. “We often use the food collected from food drives to put together emergency food boxes, senior food boxes and other food for our partner agencies.”

Jimmy Short from Celina waits in line at the Clay County Mobile Pantry at Clay County High School.

A Second Harvest truck unloads food before distribution.

Clients wait for distribution to begin at McGavock High School in Donelson (Davidson County).

Volunteers load food into clients’ cars at Wilson Elementary in Crawford (Overton County).

Feeding America provides food at senior-focused food distribution areas. Seniors make up a large portion of food-insecure individuals in our country.

One dollar equals three meals at Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee and four meals at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, so even a little bit of money helps, McDaniel said.

“But it doesn’t just have to be money; we cannot do what we do without volunteers who are willing to generously donate their time,” McDaniel said.

Last year, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee’s dedicated volunteers donated more than 71,000 hours. Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee boasts over 17,000 volunteer hours donated each year, which helps keep its warehouse running.

“Our volunteers do a variety of tasks to keep the Food Bank running, but one of the most important is that they help sort the food so they can get it out quickly to partner agencies and into the hands of those struggling with hunger,” McDaniel said.

“If you aren’t in a place where you are able to donate food, donate time or donate money, then simply tell people about the food bank, follow us on social media and share our posts to get the word out,” McDaniel said. “Our vision is to live in a community where no one is hungry, and we need your help so people know about our services for those who may be struggling and may not know where the next meal is coming from.”

Volunteers load food into a client’s truck.

Naomi Borriello and daughters Kahlicie, Kendalynn and Katelyn wait for food distribution at Columbia State Community College in Maury County.

One in eight people in Tennessee is struggling with hunger, along with one in seven children, according to Feeding America’s statistics on hunger in Tennessee.

“These are our neighbors and those we may see and not even know that they are struggling,” McDaniel said.

Advocate by educating yourself, your friends and your family about hunger in your community, Harmon said.

“Hunger has no race, age, ethnicity, sexuality, demographic; hunger is all around us,” Harmon said. “It is important to be educated about food insecurity and what small steps you can take to fight hunger.”

“While many of us are shopping for decorations, special food and presents this holiday season, some of our neighbors across Tennessee are struggling with lingering financial hardships caused by the pandemic,” McDaniel said.

“While the world is healing and folks are getting back to ‘normal,’ we will see the snowball effects roll in from neighbors who may have never needed to use a food bank before,” Harmon said. “The need will always be there, but together we are fighting hunger and feeding hope in our community.”

Second Harvest wants to make sure our Tennessee neighbors have a similar holiday experience to families with plenty to eat, Harmon said.

“The holidays are often the hardest time of year for families, but being able to put full meals on their tables during the holiday season is a priority to the food bank,” Harmon said.

The food banks make sure to order holiday foods like turkeys, sweet potatoes, corn and green beans and encourage food drives during this season to be holiday-focused as well, “so that all of us are able to gather around different tables, enjoying the same foods,” Harmon said.

“This winter, many of our community members don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” McDaniel said. “Those who are able can put hope back on the table this holiday season by donating to Second Harvest.

“Hunger never takes a holiday.”

Organizers all agree: It’s the volunteers who are the lifeblood of such an ongoing, massive undertaking.

Volunteers undergo orientation with Volunteer Engagement team member Stephanie Lowe at the Nacarato Family Distribution Center in Smyrna (Rutherford County).


How to Help, What to Give, Where to Go

For more information on hunger and all five Feeding America food banks in Tennessee, be sure to go to

Five Feeding America Food Banks that Serve Tennessee

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee

Nashville • 615-329-3491
Get Help:

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee

Maryville • 865-521-0000
Get Help:

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee

Kingsport • 423-279-0430
Get Help:

Chattanooga Area Food Bank

Chattanooga • 423-622-1800
Get Help:

Mid-South Food Bank

Memphis • 901-527-0841
Get Help:

What to Donate (Most-needed items):

Peanut butter
Canned chicken, tuna and meats
Canned fruit and vegetables
Canned beans
Canned soups and stews
Pasta and rice
“The most needed items at the food bank stay pretty consistent; proteins are SUPER valuable and usually our No. 1 ask!” Harmon said.

What not to donate:

Perishable food
Bread or baked goods
Items that require refrigeration
Anything in glass jars
Food with packaging concerns (rips, tears, dents or bloated cans)
Expired food
Anything homemade
“A good rule of thumb: If you would not serve it to a friend or family member, chances are the food bank would not either!” Harmon said.

The post Hunger Never Takes a Holiday appeared first on The Tennessee Magazine.

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The Gift of LiteracyNicole Christensen

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library inspires children with the wonder of reading

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a grassroots community program that is dedicated to inspiring kids to love to read, said Nora Briggs, The Dollywood Foundation’s executive director. The program mails a new book every month until a child is 5, at no cost to his or her family, no matter what the family income is.

The Imagination Library is the signature program of The Dollywood Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1988 by hometown living legend Dolly Parton.

“I didn’t really start a literacy foundation but rather wanted to get something going for the children in my home county,” Dolly said in an interview shared by the Imagination Library. “Over the years, we learned a lot about what works, but the one thing I knew for sure is that to have even a remote chance for success, you have to know how to read and write. And the best way to learn is to love books and love reading.

“We knew we had to start the moment a child was born. This is the entire point of my Imagination Library. I want to make it easy for parents to read to their child. I want the child to feel the magic of a book arriving and the excitement of opening it up. This love of books will last a lifetime.”

What started as a local program for Dolly’s hometown of Sevier County in 1995 has grown into an international movement with Imagination Library programs in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and Ireland.

“Inspiring kids to love to read became my mission,” Dolly said. “In the beginning, my hope was simply to inspire the children in my home county, but here we are today with a worldwide program that gives a book a month to well over 1.9 million children.”

For more than 26 years, the Imagination Library has been sending books to children, directly to their homes every month. Nora said they are so excited to have mailed more than 172 million books to date.

“It is a simple gift with immense returns,” Nora said. “We have been helping families prepare their children for school, helping parents carve out quiet time with their children to snuggle and read a book. We have been empowering older siblings to read with their younger siblings every day for 26 years.”

Nora said Tennessee research shows that children who participate in the Imagination Library program enter kindergarten more prepared to learn than those who do not participate. Other long-lasting impacts of early exposure to books include children having stronger reading skills, cultivating a stronger vocabulary, laying a foundation for parental involvement in their child’s learning and even developing life skills.

“Simply getting books into the home changes the trajectory of children, families and communities,” Nora said. “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a simple and effective way to make communities better places to live by supporting and nurturing a love of books, shared family time and early learning.”

Dolly Parton said the Imagination Library is a tribute to her dad.

“My Daddy could not read or write, so I grew up with seeing how limiting it can be,” Dolly said. “I often say he was the smartest man I have ever known, but I always wonder what else he could have done if he knew how to read.”

“Before he passed away, my Daddy told me the Imagination Library was probably the most important thing I had ever done,” Dolly said. “I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.”

In 2004, the Imagination Library partnered with the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation, ensuring children in all 95 Tennessee counties from birth to 5 years old are eligible for the Imagination Library program and sent up to 60 books.

The books sent through the program grow with the child, being age-appropriate both in content and format, and focus on core human values, including kindness, respect, empathy and acceptance, with books ranging from “The Little Engine That Could” to the “Llama Llama” book series to Dolly Parton’s own book “I Am a Rainbow.”

Nora provided a sampling of parent feedback that the Imagination Library has received discussing the impact the program has had on their children’s lives.

“We can’t express enough how much we love your program,” Darnelle said. “It has sparked my daughter’s love for books! Every day she checks the mail — every day! She almost gets to a point of discouragement, and then a book finally shows up! Her smile is priceless — we read that book over and over and over again.”

There are many ways to contribute to the Imagination Library. Proceeds from a license plate go a long way. Visit the Imagination Library online to learn more.
Darnelle added that she admires how the books have grown perfectly with her daughter and how her daughter has loved every book she has been sent.

“This is hands-down one the most valuable things I have done for my daughter,” Darnelle said.

Tabatha said her daughter and son love the books from Imagination Library.

“We spend almost every night reading three or four before going to bed and sometimes randomly throughout the day,” Tabatha said. “My son adores ‘Find Fergus’ and ‘Milo’s Hat Trick.’ My daughter enjoys reading ‘Squeak!’ and ‘Shh! Bears Sleeping’ to her little brother.”

Bill shared that his family signed up a little over a year ago, right after his son was born, and the Imagination Library has already given his son so many books he enjoys.

“We have a habit of announcing that a new book from Imagination Library has arrived when one of us gets the mail, and my wife has pointed out Dolly’s picture to him on some of the books,” Bill said. “Last night, out of the blue, he said ‘Dolly. Books.’ And I said, ‘What about Dolly books?’ We talked some more and ended up piecing together that he recognizes Dolly as a friend who sends him books in the mail.”

People can “give the gift of literacy” this holiday season by encouraging friends and family to enroll their children in the Imagination Library program. They can also support local Tennessee Imagination Library programs by buying Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library license plate or donating to a local program.

“Education is an equalizer,” Nora said. “It is one of the greatest gifts we can give a child — the ability to read.”

There are Imagination Library programs in all 50 states. To check availability and sign up for the Imagination Library program, visit imagination or scan the QR Code above. Donations can also be made on imagination — give the gift of literacy by donating in honor, memory or celebration of someone.

Dolly Parton reads to a group of children at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

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Shutterbug Showcase: Going GreenContent Express

Green is the color of many things, including grass, leaves, spring and life. It can represent renewal, calm and rebirth in many aspects. With that in mind, our next Shutterbug Photography Contest theme is “Going Green.”

Images can be from any year and anywhere, but they must contain at least one element of the color green. Enter any subject matter that captures what green means to you. Subjects could include but aren’t limited to self-portraits or portraits of your family or pets, the scenery outside your window or from the front porch, any sports event or the bounty of your garden.

You can enter photographs taken on a phone or with a camera. Judges will look at the quality of light as well as the composition and subject matter to choose the winners.

Images can include people or not, and they can be selfies. As you accept this challenge, please stay safe and mind your surroundings. We don’t want any injuries in pursuit of a photograph.

Contest rules

The contest is open to amateur and professional photographers. For the purposes of this competition, you are considered a professional if you regularly sell your images or garner more than 50 percent of your income from photography.
Photographs must have been taken by you.
A photographer can enter no more than three photographs. There is no cost to enter.
All entries must be made online. We won’t accept prints for this contest. Complete the form below and upload your photograph(s) to enter.
Employees of Tennessee’s electric cooperatives and their immediate families are not eligible to win.
Please include the name of each recognizable person, if any other than yourself, in your photograph. It is the photographer’s responsibility to have the subject’s permission to enter his or her image in the contest. You must include the subject’s name and contact information with your submission. Omitting any of this information can result in disqualification.
By entering the contest, photographers automatically give The Tennessee Magazine permission to publish the winning images in print and digital publications, to social media and on websites.


Photographs must be entered online by midnight (Central Standard Time) on Monday, Jan. 31. Winners will be published in the March issue.

Prize packages:

Judges will select a first-, second- and third-place winner in each division and age group. These prizes will be awarded: First place wins $150, second place $100 and third place $50.

Entry Form:

For the purposes of our contest, you are considered a professional if you regularly sell your images or garner more than 50 percent of your income from photography.

Shutterbugs 18 and older, Junior Shutterbugs 17 and younger

Photographer Information

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By entering the sweepstakes, photographers automatically give The Tennessee Magazine and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association permission to publish your images in print and digital publications, social media and on websites. Email addresses and phone numbers collected will be used to contact the winners and inform you of other contests and activities sponsored by The Tennessee Magazine or the electric cooperatives of Tennessee.

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Time ZoningBill Carey

In Tennessee, each town used to determine its own time

Exactly what time did the Battle of Shiloh begin? What was the time when the Tennessee Constitutional Convention of 1796 finished its work? Precisely when did Andrew Jackson leave the Hermitage to be inaugurated as president?

The answer to all these questions is we don’t know and will never know. You see, the idea of exact time evolved in Tennessee (and American) history. Today there are four time zones in the continental U.S., and everyone knows what time it is in each of them. But in the 19th century, every town had its own time based on when a local dignitary calculated that the sun passed overhead.

I’ve compared several newspaper references from the 19th century and have pieced together the following relationship: New York City time was 24 minutes ahead of Washington, D.C., time, which was 11 minutes ahead of Knoxville time, which was 20 minutes ahead of Nashville time, which was seven minutes ahead of Clarksville time, which was eight minutes ahead of Memphis time, which was 10 minutes ahead of New Orleans time.

You got that?

I’m staggered by the number of problems this would have caused. How did people schedule meetings? How many legal cases were affected by confusion as to the time of the crime?

And how did moving armies in the Civil War communicate battle plans and orders to each other since there was no time standard?

I’ve concluded that most towns had highly visible clocks displaying the official time and that people set their pocket watches based on that time. Towns that didn’t have big clocks had residents who complained about it. In 1859, the Memphis Appeal urged the city authorities to invest in a big clock. “For want of a true and universal standard of time, a thousand hours are lost in this city daily, by reason of people not being able to move and meet upon punctual time,” the paper said.

As this timetable in the March 10, 1874, Bristol News points out, railroads operated on different time zones.

I would have thought that universal time was brought on by the advent of the telegraph, but, in fact, it was the railroads. Not long after the arrival of railroads onto the American scene, it became obvious that some standard time was necessary (there was a deadly train collision in Massachusetts caused by confusion as to the time).

However, railroads were in competition with each other, so they didn’t exactly cooperate. Each railroad came up with its own time — that of a city in the region in which it operated. The Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad ran on Washington, D.C., time. The Louisville and Cincinnati Railroad ran on Lexington, Kentucky, time

In cities with multiple railroads, it must have been fun to keep up with the timetables. “Rail road time twenty minutes faster than city time,” advised an item for the Memphis and Charleston Railroad in the April 21, 1868, Memphis Public Ledger. One inch below, an item for the Memphis and Louisville Railroad stated that “railroad time is 15 minutes faster than city time.”

To add to the confusion, railroads sometimes changed the time zones they used. In 1874, the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad ran on Nashville time. Nine years later, the same railroad ran on Louisville, Kentucky, time.

Speaking of the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad and time confusion: In July 1880, the Chattanooga Daily Times informed its readers that the railroad operated 12 minutes faster than Chattanooga time. Nine months later, the same newspaper contained an item that stated that the same railroad operated 15 minutes faster than Chattanooga time.

This chaos remained until 1883 when the railroads divided the country into four time zones and came up with a time known as “Railroad Standard Time.” The switch happened on Nov. 18, which must have been a strange day to ride a train. “Should any train or engine be caught between telegraph stations at 10 o’clock a.m. on Sunday, November the 18th, they will stop at precisely 10 o’clock, wherever they may be, and stand still and securely protect their trains or engines in the rear and front until 10:18 a.m.”

Shortly thereafter, most large cities officially shifted to Railroad Standard Time. For instance, Nashville shifted over to Railroad Standard Time a week later. “The town clocks will be set back to the standard time today,” the Nashville American reported on Nov. 25, 1883.

However, some towns and cities resented the idea of big business deciding what time it was, so they refused to adopt Railroad Standard Time for a while. Chattanooga was one such place, and its newspaper ridiculed the city for it. “Last week there was only 15 minutes difference between the standard railroad time and the city time,” reported the Chattanooga Times on Feb. 15, 1884. “This week the city time is fully 20 minutes faster than standard time.”

I don’t know when Chattanooga came around to Railroad Standard Time, but I do know that Detroit, Michigan, famously refused to switch away from local time until 1905.

If there were any holdout towns and cities remaining on local time in the United States, those vanished in 1918. In that year Congress enacted the Standard Time Act, making precise time an official and legal concept in the U.S.

Today, we have many things we can argue about. But at least we can agree on the time, right?

A Library of Congress photo shows an African American jeweler in Knoxville named Dodson in 1899. In those days, fixing pocket watches was a big part of a jeweler’s job.

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Tennessee football: Alontae Taylor not playing in bowl game best for both partiesCaleb Calhoun

We’re reaching that time where players make a decision as to whether or not they will stay or go for the NFL. The 2020 COVID eligibility ruling makes it tricky, as many seniors have another year left, and that applies to Tennessee football in a big way. Jerome Carvin confirmed he’s returning earlier in the […]

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Tennessee Lady Vols dominate Tennessee Tech 76-48: Three takeawaysCaleb Calhoun

For the second straight game, the Tennessee Lady Vols walked away with a victory of over 20 points. Ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll and No. 10 in the Coaches Poll and still without Rae Burrell, UT beat the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 76-48 Wednesday, their first home game not against a Power Five […]

Tennessee Lady Vols dominate Tennessee Tech 76-48: Three takeawaysAll for TennesseeAll for Tennessee – A Tennessee Volunteers Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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