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A Friend of the Food Bank

Friends of the Food Bank and Lee Cunningham 

In the heart of Middle and West Tennessee, a group of young professionals is making a significant impact through volunteerism, fundraising, and community engagement. Friends of the Food Bank, an initiative from Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, is a vibrant community of individuals aged 25-40 who are dedicated to helping neighbors in need by advocating for hunger solutions. One friend, Lee Cunningham, is a former member of Friends of the Food Bank who now serves on the Board of Directors for Second Harvest. 

Lee’s Path to Second Harvest 

Lee Cunningham’s professional life is rooted in education administration with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “I mainly do compliance work between the state of Tennessee and universities, trade schools, for-profits, and training centers to ensure that everyone is a getting quality education so they can find meaningful and gainful employment,” he explains. 

Lee’s connection to Second Harvest began in 2014 through volunteering and social events. “I initially found Second Harvest through some volunteering and social events, then got looped into the first iteration of the Friends of the Food Bank committee in 2014. As I started to phase out of the young professional age group, there was an opportunity on the Second Harvest board, and I was fortunate enough to be welcomed in. I’ve been on the board for about 6 years now,” he recalls. 

Professional Growth Through Friends of the Food Bank 

Lee credits Friends of the Food Bank with expanding his professional network and enhancing his career. “Friends of the Food Bank expanded my network. It was refreshing to see so many different people from different industries and careers coming together for a similar goal. Now half of my agency has visited Second Harvest to volunteer and sort food, which has now become one of our initiatives,” he shares. 

This experience has also inspired new initiatives. “Professionally, it has led me to things like this new initiative my colleagues and I are working on with the state to increase the availability of food pantries at some of the community colleges and some of our more rural areas. Many college students face food insecurity as well; it’s not just children or seniors. Hunger impacts all walks of life and every age group,” Lee emphasizes. 

Advice for Aspiring Young Professionals 

For young professionals looking to join a group like Friends of the Food Bank, Lee offers valuable advice. “Being present, being energized, and being dependable. I think all three things can create a really good experience for people. Being present and there is half the battle. You meet people that are in different industries, and you can understand that this place isn’t just about handing out food boxes. You see that there is a heavy emphasis on things like IT, operations, and logistics. You understand that it is truly a team effort, and no matter what your talent is, you can be utilized to make a difference,” he says. 

Lee continues, “The more energy you give to it, the more you get out of it. You can also see different perspectives from an operational standpoint as well as community and people that need services. It’s very rewarding, but you just have to be there. It’s very life-changing because it alters the way that you look at everything in your life. My biggest piece of advice to someone who is sitting in the same seat I once sat in is that as you start to progress in your career, be mindful of the people and the places that you align yourself with. This is a great place to align yourself with. Be open to all the blessings and opportunities you can receive here.” 

Join Friends of the Food Bank and Make a Difference 

Friends of the Food Bank provides a unique opportunity for young professionals to contribute to their community, grow their network, and develop professionally. By joining, you can make a tangible difference in the fight against hunger while expanding your horizons and building lasting connections. 

For more information on how to get involved, visit Friends of the Food Bank.

Chaque dollar que vous donnez aide à fournir au moins 4 repas à des familles dans le besoin grâce à Second Harvest.

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