Feeding the Mid-South Need

By Jeremy Park

Last week we discussed the Jubilee Schools, which are educating children in urban areas of Memphis, affording opportunities for them to learn, grow and succeed in a faith-based environment regardless of their socioeconomic status. This week, let us spotlight an organization that is fighting hunger through the efficient collection and distribution of wholesome food, and through education and advocacy: Mid-South Food Bank.

Mid-South Food Bank is an independent, nondenominational nonprofit that was founded in 1981 with the vision of creating a hunger-free community. Their programs impact 200,000 individuals in 31 counties in West Tennessee, North Mississippi, and East Arkansas. More than one-third are children and 10 percent are seniors. All of them need food to meet basic nutrition needs, in order to lead healthy, productive lives.

Mid-South Food Bank has four primary hunger fighting programs: Hunger’s Hope, Feeding Children, Mobile Pantry and Disaster Relief. Hunger’s Hope distributes food and groceries through a network of 225 agencies with 332 feeding programs. These include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, youth and senior programs, rehabilitation and residential centers. Last year, these agencies distributed 10.3 million pounds of food – the equivalent of 8 million meals.

Feeding Children addresses the nutritional needs of approximately 136,000 children. Last year, for example, 206,500 backpack meals were enjoyed by children who might not otherwise have had a nutritious meal to eat. Mobile Pantry provides truckloads of food for distribution in 20 rural and underserved counties. Mobile Pantry also provides fresh produce to youth and seniors, who live in inner-city food deserts. Disaster Relief is offered as a first response to supply emergency shelters with food when disaster strikes.

Helping the efforts of Mid-South Food Bank is easy and critical, as they currently face dire shortages. Coordinate or participate in a food drive. We have an LPBC food drive going on now and are asking businesses to place a box in their office where you and your team can contribute most-needed items. Most-needed items include canned meats (tuna, stews, chicken and dumplings, chili, Spam), soups, peanut butter, canned fruits, canned vegetables, canned 100 percent fruit juice, and any non-perishable items (no glass containers).

Collect these items at your office, then call Yuletide Office Solutions, which has graciously offered the services of their trucks and team, to schedule a pick-up time on Monday, April 30, or Monday, May 7. Sherry Favre is scheduling pick-ups and may be reached at 372-8588 or sherry@yuletideop.com.

Financial contributions are powerful, as every dollar donated translates to $4 worth of food, due to their partnerships. Take a tour of their facility or consider volunteering. Cast a daily Facebook vote at http://apps.facebook.com/walmartfighthunger/ (contest ends April 30) and Mid-South Food Bank could win $1 million to fight hunger. Learn more and help feed those in need by visiting www.midsouthfoodbank.org.

Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com.