Ashley Swann

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Cookeville’s Most Influential People – Class of 2022

Ashley Swann was getting an urge to help children, but she didn’t know what that meant. Over the course of two months in early 2017, a series of events gave the Cookeville native and community activist clarity that she was being called to start Food to the Rescue. 
A local teacher informed Ashley there were students who don’t have food when they go home from school. It shocked her. There were solutions available for weekends and families with vehicles, but she wondered what children would do during long school breaks, especially if they didn’t have access to transportation.
Then she read “Interrupted” by Jen Hatmaker, about Jesus interrupting he author’s comfortable faith and calling her to do something greater. Within the story was a mobile food distribution. A sense of realization came over Ashley, bringing her to tears.
“I stopped and I was just praying and putting it all together,” said Ashley, overcome with chills as she recalled the pivotal moment. “I was like, ‘You want me to take food to children?'”

I kept telling the Lord, ‘If this is it, everything has to fall into place.’ And it did.”



The biggest challenge Ashley faced initially was finding kids and convincing their parents she would deliver food to their houses every week. The program officially launched with eight families in the summer of 2017 and quickly grew to over 350 children by the year’s end. Food To The Rescue is now serving more than 650 children.

The multi-denominational Christian organization is comprised of local churches, businesses and citizens of Putnam County working together to ensure no child in the community is hungry. With 150 volunteers uniting to make each distribution possible, Food to the Rescue makes six deliveries annually to around 225 homes.

“I knew this is what God wanted me to do because there were so many times we would be short like 12 loaves of bread and we’d go to the store and somebody would be like, ‘I can donate 12 loaves of bread!’ “It was just amazing.”

When she’s not feeding children of Cookeville, Ashley spends her time doing Crossfit, wakeboarding, mountain biking, playing basketball and camping with her four boys and husband of 14 years. When asked what is means to give back to the children of Cookeville, Ashley replied, “I’m just doing God’s work. I’m just happy that I’m able to do it.”

– by Alanna Massey

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