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Homeless veteran sacrificing his own needs so nobody in his community goes hungry

Purple Heart recipient Gary 'Chops' Polk, knows all about sacrifice. Now he's taking those lessons from war zones to the farm fields of East Tennessee.

LAFOLLETTE, Tenn. — An East Tennessee veteran is taking sacrifice to a whole other level. He's setting aside his own needs so that others in his community don't go hungry.

Despite being homeless, he has opened up four farms growing food to ensure everyone in his community can get a meal. The project is called Project Evolution, and he has worked on it for more than 10 years.

His story starts at a young age when he was adopted. Then, later on in his life, he spent several years in the U.S. military.

"It's given me the discipline; it's given me the tools to push through when all else has failed in life," said Gary Polk who is otherwise known as "Chops."

After serving 4 and a half years in Iraq over four tours, he knows exactly what it means to serve others. He received a Purple Heart for his service.

Despite the accolades and his commitment to the community, Chops is now homeless. His mission is still the same at its core though — to help people.

"We want to make sure that at the end of the day, everybody is fed," Chops said.

He is working to make sure that nobody in his community goes without a meal. It is now his top priority.

"There's one thing we all need — nutrients and food, no matter what we're are going through. If we're wealthy or if we are poor, if we are struggling or doing okay — we can all use some good food," said Chops.

He now lives in a camper with planks of wood holding up a tarp. Without costs of living though, he has been able to open four separate farms to grow food, ensuring that there is food for everyone he knows who may need it.

"No kid will go hungry, no single mom will go hungry, no church pantry will be empty, no food bank will be empty," he said. "Every homeless person will have something to eat."

He doesn't just hope to feed people through Project Evolution, but also educate them.

"We're going to provide them with baby plants and seeds from our crops so they can learn and we can teach them," said Chops.

And at the end, he hopes to create a community that can put all the worry of finding something to eat behind them.

"No more stress, no more hungry bellies, no more," said Chops. "Everybody is fed. This farm is for the people by the people."

If you would like to sponsor and help out with his mission, you can contact him at (865) 279-1382. There are similar projects across East Tennessee you can support too.

For example, the Farmer Veteran Coalition includes almost 800 farmers across Tennessee. The group offers education and training for people interested in starting a similar project. It also gives out grants in a "Fellowship Fund" of $1,000 through $5,000 to help cover start-up costs of an operation.