Two recent KNOW Hunger Nutrition Fairs conducted in Vicksburg and Jackson drew 40 local organizations and more than 800 participants. The events, part of the Urban League-Tyson Foods Hunger Project Mississippi, provided free food and health screenings, nutritious cooking and exercise demonstrations plus access to programs for the underserved.

A donation of 34,000 pounds of food kicked off the fairs. It was given to the Mississippi Food Network from the Urban League of Greater Jackson, Jackson State University and Tyson Foods.

There were a lot of great moments, and some of the highlights are available here. But it’s increasingly clear the most important gathering is ongoing.

There has been a proliferation of organizations and resources aimed at curbing hunger for Mississippi, which leads the nation in food insecurity. Several groups have been at it awhile, and here are a few of the lead entities engaged at present:

There are others, including a growing number of efforts by political leaders. Lasting success will likely require a coalition of public and private entities working together.

There will be at least two more opportunities this fall that can help lend traction. The Urban League-Tyson Foods Hunger Project will conduct a SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Challenge on Nov. 13 in Jackson, and a day later The Mississippi Food Policy Council is holding a conference.

Contact those organizations for more information, and also take a minute to visit all of these groups and see where your own effort might fit in. There’s plenty of room at the table for those who want to make a real difference.

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Tyson Foods and the National Urban League Fight Hunger in Mississippi

Did you know Mississippi has the country’s highest level of food insecurity? Nearly 20 percent of the population is at risk of hunger, according to the USDA.  That means one in five friends, family and neighbors in your community are unsure of their next meal. Tyson Foods hopes to change that in a new partnership with the National Urban League. In June, the pair founded the Urban League–Tyson Foods Hunger Project Mississippi, a year-long program to alleviate hunger for more than 19,000 people in several Mississippi counties. “This partnership enables and empowers the people of Jackson by providing valuable resources and necessary access to quality food,” said Marc H. Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League. The Mississippi Food Network, another local partner, will push more distribution agencies into the most underserved regions of the state including Warren County and Adams County, where 61 percent of the population lives 130 percent below the poverty line. KNOW Hunger fairs in Vicksburg on Sept. 19 and Jackson on Sept. 20 will raise awareness through food preparation demonstrations, couponing workshops, education about food agency resources, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) registration, and nutritional, health and wellness education. We want to eliminate hunger in your community. The fairs will be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day at the Vicksburg Convention Center and the Jackson Salvation Army Center, respectively. There will also be special appearances and plenty of opportunities for engagement. So how can you help? Contact Melissa Dean with the Urban League of Greater Jackson via (601) 714-4600 or jatranmarketing@bellsouth.net; or Marilyn Blackledge at the Mississippi Food Network via (601) 973-7086 or mblackledge@msfoodnet.org. You can also join the long line of volunteers who have served as mentors and community mobilizers with the National Urban League since its founding in 1910. Make an online donation to the league or contribute stock or other securities. Your neighbors are hungry – help feed them by donating food or time to the Mississippi Food Network. Stay connected to the organizations fighting hunger in Mississippi. Look for our organizations on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: