Tomato Crush feeds thousands

The Knoxville Convention Center is inviting volunteers to assist in the second annual “Tomato Crush” event to prepare hundreds of healthy, premade meals for hungry families across East Tennessee. The event to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee will be held in the Convention Center’s industrial kitchen on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Volunteers will assist in preparing fresh tomatoes for processing into red sauce to be used in a variety of dishes. Volunteers also are invited to bring locally grown or canned tomatoes to donate to Second Harvest.

“Last year, we had a great turnout to help the Knoxville Convention Center staff prepare more than 1,000 gallons of healthy, red tomato sauce for Second Harvest Food Bank,” Convention Center Executive Chef Chris Moore said. “We need volunteers of all ages and skill levels to help us exceed last year’s donation. No culinary experience is required. There are many different tasks, and several chefs are available to help supervise.”

Sysco, US Foods and local farmers have donated tomatoes, onions, garlic and other ingredients for volunteers to turn into sauce. Approximately 80 volunteers from the University of Tennessee Culinary Arts program have signed up for Saturday’s event.

The idea for the event stemmed from conversations about the lack of fresh, healthy ingredients in the local food system – and its effect on the population – among members of the Knoxville-Knox County Food Policy Council and Gail Root, programs director for Second Harvest.

This year’s Tomato Crush is being held in memory of one of the founders of the event, James Bosi.

Volunteers interested in participating in the event should meet at the Clinch Avenue entrance of the Convention Center between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Aug. 27. Participants will be taken to the industrial kitchen on the hour and half-hour. Parking is available at the Poplar Street lot and the Locust Street Garage.

If possible, interested volunteers should contact the Knoxville Convention Center in advance at 865-522- 5669. Notification of participation is requested but not required.