Fighting hunger: Local food pantries, Mississippi food networks need financial and food donations – Reuters

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Fighting hunger: Local food pantries, Mississippi food networks need financial and food donations

Posted at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Randall Lofton spoke outside Mount Zion Baptist Church in North Lincoln County on August 21. He asked the congregation to please donate food and money as they tried to fill their shelves.

A member of the Mississippi Food Network, the pantry has served 150 to 180 families over the past three months.

“We serve people from Lawrence, Franklin, Copiah and Lincoln counties,” he said. “A man I gave food to had traveled from Jefferson County.”

Mt. Zion shelves are feeling the effects of supply chain issues, inflation and shortages felt in Lincoln County and Mississippi. At the time, they desperately needed donations. The best way people can give to the church is to give money. Checks can be made payable to Mt. Zion Baptist Church Food Pantry and mailed to 680 Mt Zion Rd NW, Brookhaven, MS.

Canned goods can also be brought by the church, but it is best to donate cash so that items can be purchased in bulk. It’s much easier to distribute items purchased in bulk, he said. Those with questions can contact Lofton at 601-833-6797.

The other pantries at Brookhaven are:

• Bethel AME, 710 Swalm Ave, 601-757-2989

• Brookhaven Outreach, 210 W Court St., 601-833-1350

• First Church of the Nazarene, 732 Union Church Road, 601-833-2906

• Greater Hope Foundation, 1955 New Site Road, 601-833-2337

• Siloam Missionary Baptist Church, 2770 Zetus Road Northwest, 601-754-9887

These pantries would gladly accept donations of food or money.

A statewide challenge

The Mississippi Food Network is also seeing a shortage of canned items in its warehouse. Kelly Mott Durrett, director of external affairs for the Mississippi Food Network, said that before the COVID pandemic, they would have about a million pounds of food on their shelves. The situation has become desperate, she said.

“We have seen a decrease in food donations. We have always relied on our community and school food drives. Our biggest food drive is the WAPT Food for Families Football Challenge which kicks off this week for the first time in three years,” she said. “We also got food from retailers like Walmart, Sam’s Club and Costco. You couple that with inflation and supply chain issues, it’s a triple whammy. Food trucks are delayed. The other day we received a call that they had to cancel some orders. »

Mississippi Food Network serves 56 counties in central Mississippi, and much of their local donations come from the same communities they serve. People can donate a dollar if they have one available. Every dollar counts, she says.

The foods themselves such as canned fruits, vegetables, bags of rice and pasta are staple foods that they miss. Currently the warehouse appears to be empty and there haven’t been many cans to buy in bulk.

“It took a lot of us by surprise. Things just aren’t available,” Durrett said. , but there’s not a lot of variety… At the moment we don’t know what to expect.”

Why should you care?

Mississippi Food Network is partnering with 430 food pantries across the state to serve hungry families. One of the research projects conducted during the pandemic focused on brand recognition. She said 80% of Mississippians consider hunger a national problem, but only 46% consider it a statewide problem. According to the Mississippi Food Network website, one in four Mississippi residents face food insecurity daily.

It is likely that the situation has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. Mississippi is facing a population decline, and as a result, grocery stores are moving out of small towns, creating food deserts in rural communities. Several counties in the state do not have a grocery store, forcing residents to travel to another county.

She said there will be comments on their website asking for food assistance programs such as SNAP, EBT and WIC and why people just don’t use them. People may not realize that it is difficult to qualify for these programs.

“There are a lot of people falling through the cracks. If a grandparent is raising their grandchild, they cannot claim them as a dependent for these programs,” she said. “We have seen a lot of older people who have fallen through the cracks. We recently received a grant and started our own grocery store program for seniors…I invite people to volunteer at a local food pantry. It will change your mind and hopefully if your mind changes, so will your heart.

How can I help?

Food pantries will always need volunteers, but they also need money and food. Durrett said one way people can help donate directly to the Mississippi Food Network is through a virtual canned food drive.

Anyone can set up this virtual food drive on the Mississippi Food Network website. It allows people to buy goods and they can donate money to the network so they can use their purchasing power, she said.

Currently, the Food Network is accepting donations at its office located at 440 W Beatty Street during business hours which are 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday.

“We also encourage people to find nearby local food pantries and donate time, money and food there as well,” she said.

The Mississippi Food Network fundraiser takes place Sept. 8 in Jackson. It’s a farmer’s market called Moonlight Market. Nick Wallace is the event chef and tickets, which cost $50, include food, drinks and a chance to win raffle prizes. Tickets are limited, Durrett said.

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