Being No. 1 sounds great, but being at the top isn’t always a good thing.
Unfortunately, Mississippi is at the top of the list for poorest state. Where there’s poverty, there is hunger. So naturally, Mississippi has also been recognized as having the worst hunger problem in America. Hunger is an issue all over the United States, but in Mississippi it is practically an epidemic,
According to the Mississippi Food Network, almost one in four Mississippians don’t have enough to eat, and many of these are children and the elderly. Stomachs are growling all over the state, and many children and seniors are going to bed hungry every night.
The Mississippi Food Network is responsible for providing food to youth programs, senior citizen programs, day care centers, food pantries, human service programs and homeless shelters. In addition to the regular problems they encounter, the MFN is facing epic shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet they remain committed to feeding the hungry in our state.
In addition to supplying food banks across Mississippi, the MFN runs a rural delivery program to provide food in centralized locations across the state.
They are also responsible for the Backpack Program for school children. This program is designed to meet the needs of hungry children at times when other resources are not available, such as weekends and school vacations. Backpacks are filled with food and snacks, and then discreetly distributed to children on the last day before a weekend or holiday vacation.
Five days a week, the agency also provides healthy snacks to about 600 children in after-school programs in underserved communities. These are administered by the Mississippi Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition. The snacks are distributed through five Boys & Girls Clubs and nine private nonprofit organizations that also offer tutoring, homework help and enrichment activities.
But there is something else Mississippi leads in — giving. Mississippians are known to take care of each other. As the holidays approach, people all over the state will find it in their hearts to give generously to those less fortunate. Programs such as the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree and Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child will provide gifts to countless needy children thanks to the love and generosity of Mississippians. Organizations such as the United Way of West Central Mississippi and the River City Rescue Mission in Vicksburg will provide meals and other necessities.
As we open our hearts and wallets this year, let’s keep in mind the heroes at the Mississippi Food Network and all of our neighbors they serve throughout the year.
They are located at 440 W. Beatty St in Jackson, Mississippi. Donations can be made by calling 601-973-7086 or visiting www.msfoodnetwork.org.