Crawford Alumni Center

Tech Took Us There

Tech alumna serves more than 100,000 individuals in need at Chattanooga Area Food Bank

Photo of Abby Markus. Abby is standing in front of a garden and barn with a sign shaped like an apple. She has long blonde hair and a black shirt and is smiling.

As a Phonathon student caller, Abbey Markus, ’18 communication, served Tennessee Tech by raising funds to help Tech students. Now, Markus continues this desire to help others by serving more than 100,000 individuals who struggle with food security at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank (CAFB).

As the event planner and community engagement coordinator for the CAFB, Markus focuses on food drives, third party events, marketing, and serving community members at different mobile food pantries. And she credits her success to many of the skills she acquired at Tech.

“My favorite part of my job is being able to see firsthand how my work is affecting our community,” she said. “The Chattanooga Area Food Bank covers 7,000 square miles. We have 11 counties in Tennessee and 9 in Northwest Georgia. Within that area, 132,050 individuals are in need of our services. That’s one in eight adults and one in five children.”

Markus graduated from Tech in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in communication and says her classes and work experience encouraged her to be outgoing and taught her how to speak with people in all situations. She wrote for The Oracle student newspaper, filmed Tech sporting events for the Golden Eagle Sports Network, and mentored incoming freshmen as a Student Orientation Assistant. In her communication classes, she learned Photoshop, InDesign, and Premiere Pro, which she now uses to create signs, flyers, cards, and videos to promote the CAFB.

While the CAFB serves a high volume of clients even in the best of times, Markus says that COVID-19 has presented a perfect storm of increased demand, decline in food donations, and disruptions to their supply chain. Their emergency food box distribution went from 50 per day to 120 per day, and they have added at least one new mobile pantry in each of the 20 counties they serve to increase their capacity for food distribution.

“When you walk through our 40,000-square-foot warehouse, you see racking that’s filled with food; however, if we didn’t get another donation, all that food would be gone in 30 days,” said Markus. “Even though these are tough times, we are shown how amazing our community is and how ready they are to step up and help in times of need.”