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Seed Library & Gardening

This guide will help you see what seeds are available in our collection as well as planting guides, open access resources, and databases related to gardening.

Food Insecurity Resources

Food Insecurity Resources

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as "a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food." Food insecurity does not look the same for every person, and the USDA provides nuanced definitions for the ranges of food insecurity. 

Those experiencing food insecurity often face a reduction in their food intake, resulting in hunger. Hunger is "an individual-level physiological condition" that is "a potential consequence of food insecurity that, because of prolonged, involuntary lack of food, results in discomfort, illness, weakness, or pain that goes beyond the usual uneasy sensation" (USDA). Hunger impacts your physical ability to do daily tasks and coursework, therefore it is crucial that you eat in order to fuel your body and brain.

A person with low food security may experience...

  • a reduction in the quality, variety, or desirability of their diet
  • little to no indication of a reduction in food intake

Those with very low food security may experience...

  • disrupted eating patterns 
  • reduced food intake

Regardless of what range of food insecurity a person falls into or what symptoms of hunger they are experiencing, everyone is deserving of assistance and should not hesitate to use the resources available to those experiencing food insecurity. These resources exist for you!

Services such as the Big Orange Pantry, the Grow Lab, and the Seed Library were created to support you, and we hope that this guide will help to further reduce the stigma around receiving food assistance. 

We encourage you to utilize these amazing resources!

Empty plate with a frowning face on it

Big Orange Pantry

  • Services Offered: Food pantry, they provide meals to those who are experiencing food insecurity. Individuals may pick up their requested items once a week during their hours of operation
  • How to Access: Go to their website, fill out the Big Orange Pantry first time user application, then come to pantry in person when your items have been prepared
  • Hours of Operation: 
    • Mondays: 12:30 PM- 5:30 PM
    • Tuesdays: CLOSED
    • Wednesdays: 12:30 PM- 5:30 PM
    • Thursdays: 12:30 PM – 5:30 PM
    • Fridays: 12:30 PM – 5:30 PM 
  • Contact Information:
  • Link to their Website:

Big Orange Meal Share

  • Services Offered: Provides free short-term meal assistance for students during fall, spring, summer semesters, and winter break. The Big Orange Meal Share also accepts donations, you can donate funds or donate your guest meals to students in need.
  • How to Access: Fill out the Big Orange Meal Share application form on the Big Orange Meal Share page to see if you are eligible.
  • Contact Information: 
  • Link to their Website:  


  • Services Offered: Volunteers collect recoverable food from campus events and bring it to the UT Culinary Institute where the food is transformed into single-serve ready to eat meals distributed to the campus community.
  • How to Access: The meals are distributed through the Big Orange Pantry and can be picked up during the pantry's open hours.
  • Contact Information: 
  • Link to their Website:

Seed Library

  • Services Offered: The seed library offers free packets of seeds that contain enough seeds to grow 2-4 plants. There is also a robust Seed Library Guide that contains planting directions, seed saving guides, and links to databases and e-books that may assist with planning your garden.
  • Locations:: There are two locations for the seed library: Hodges Library and Pendergrass Library. The seed library at Hodges Library is near the Starbucks/ Pod Market on the 2nd floor. The Seed Library at Pendergrass Library is located across from the Computer Lab.
  • How to Access: Both locations of the Seed Library are self-serve, so pick your seeds from the card catalog, fill out the check out form on the iPad kiosk next to it, and get to planting! If you are new to gardening, check out the Seed Library research guide to find resources and get started.
  • Hours:  The  Seed Library is available whenever Pendergrass or Hodges are open.
  • Contact Information:
  • Link to their Website: 

Smokey's Pantry

  • Services Offered: Provides weekly groceries and hygiene products for UTK students and the greater Knoxville community.
  • How to Access:  You can receive food once per week during their open hours. All you need to provide is the size of your household, a phone number or an address you receive mail at. This information is only used to contact you in the case of a food recall.
  • Hours: Tuesday 4-6pm
  • Contact Information
    •  email: fill out a form on their website to send them an email
    • phone number: 865-236-1235
  • Link to their Website:

College SNAP Project

  • Services Offered: A state guide that helps students determine if they qualify for SNAP benefits and an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. They also list advocacy and outreach organizations that can provide assistance.
  • How to Access: Visit their website to learn if you qualify, how to apply, and how you can use your SNAP benefits.
  • Website Link:

FISH Hospitality Pantry South Knoxville

  • Services Offered: Provides free groceries to anyone in need who visit their locations.
  • How to Access:  Visit one of their locations during their hours to pick up groceries, no identification is required, and you may visit and receive goods as often as you need.
  • Locations
    • Northwest Knoxville (Pantry/ Food Warehouse)
      • 122 West Scott Ave
      • Tuesday, Thursday, and every 4th Saturday 10am-1:00pm
      • phone number: 865-971-4000
    • East Knoxville
      • 600 South Chestnut St. (St. Luke's Espiscopal Church)
      • Monday & Wednesday 10am-1pm
      • phone number: 865-522-3474
    • South Knoxville
      • 201 Ogle Ave (inside Sustainable Future Center Building)
      • Wednesday & Friday 10am-1pm
      • phone number: 865-577-9600
  • Website Link:

Second Harvest Tennessee

  • Services Offered: Locates food pantries throughout Tennessee so an individual may find what pantries are nearby
  • How to Access: Visit their website and type in your zip code to find which food pantries are closest to you!
  • Contact Information:
    • email:
    • phone number: 865-521-0000
  • Website Link:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Love Kitchen

  • Services Offered: Meals, clothing, and emergency food packages to people in need. Their goal is to nourish anyone who is hungry and they are a beloved community organization. They serve around 3,200 meals a week.
  • How to Access: Visit their physical location during their open hours to receive meals, clothing, or an emergency food package. The Love Kitchen's address is 2418 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Knoxville, TN 37915.
  • Hours: 
    • Monday - Thursday 10:00am-3:00pm
  • Contact Information: 
    • email:
    • phone number: 865-546-3248
  • Website Link: