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How We Respond to Disasters

When disaster strikes, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee is on the ground and ready to provide emergency food assistance. We have an extensive network of 460 soup kitchens, afterschool programs, churches, senior centers, and other nonprofits. These Partner Agencies are spread throughout 46 counties – making us uniquely prepared to respond in the event of a disaster.


We have three warehouses/distribution hubs in Nashville, Smyrna, and Camden, which positions emergency food supplies throughout Middle Tennessee to distribute quickly in the event of a disaster. Our leadership has strong, established relationships with disaster relief organizations and government bodies.

Second Harvest’s facilities are already USDA compliant because we manufacture some food on site, and 100% of our staff receives regular food safety training. We can store large quantities of food that our Partner Agencies can’t, including frozen and refrigerated items.

And Second Harvest has the most amazing family, from our steadfast donors to our enthusiastic volunteer corps – they put in 87,199 hours last year!


During a disaster, Second Harvest leverages our resources — including 12 semis, 7 box trucks, and 3 warehouses. These logistical solutions are re-purposed for disaster relief when needed and are vital to delivering food and water.

Through it all, we continue our day-to-day hunger-relief operations. These programs help low-income and at-risk populations who are often disproportionately impacted by natural disasters.


On the morning of the March tornadoes, we were immediately on the ground, handing out breakfasts at 5 a.m. We sent out 1,600 hot meals a day with American Red Cross of Tennessee. On just one afternoon we provided 2,000 food boxes to Metro Nashville Public Schools. And that’s just a fraction of what we did to immediately respond to the tornadoes and pandemic.

But most importantly, Second Harvest remains rooted in communities long after other disaster organizations have moved on. Our Partner Agencies, places like Martha O’Bryan and Nashville Rescue Mission, aren’t going anywhere. Annually we distribute 36.5 million meals through our feeding programs and through our Partner Agencies. That consistency is the key to long-term disaster recovery.

How does Feeding America fit in?

We are a member of Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks across the country. Through this network, during a disaster we have access to national disaster relief partners – large companies and foundations that specialize in providing emergency supplies.

Feeding America food banks help each other. For example, during the 2017 hurricane season, our Tennessee volunteers helped us pack and send 61,152 Disaster Relief Boxes to people in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. After the Tennessee tornadoes, food banks across the country coordinated efforts to help us. 

You Can Help

Donate money

Donating money is the best way to help us to prepare, respond, and recover from a disaster. It allows us to allocate resources freely when and where they are most needed. Donate Now

Donate food

We sometimes run into logistical challenges like too much of a certain product, or difficulty in storing. To provide the most help, check our list of most-needed items or call ahead and ensure the product is being specifically requested before donating. Learn How

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