Nutrition Fairs Add to Growing Hunger Synergies for Mississippi

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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Stereotypes

Sheri Duncan, a volunteer at the Pinelake Care Center, near Jackson, Miss., says her food pantry serves many elederly people in the area. Mississippi ranks in the top ten states for food insecurity for people 60 and older.

Geraldine is a grandmother. Like many retired people, she and her husband depend on their Social Security checks to get by each month. This can be challenging on its own, but Geraldine has another full-time job, one that doesn’t pay in dollars: caring for her four grandchildren. Geraldine drives an average car, looks neatly dressed, and is proud to share her life story of running a farm. What you wouldn’t guess is that she depends on local food pantry to keep everyone in her household fed. She may not be whom you picture when you think of someone who is food insecure, but she is not alone. Many elderly people are suffering with a bad economy and increased pressures to care for an extended family. Mississippi ranks in the top ten states for food insecurity for people 60 and older.

As part of the Mississippi Hunger Project Nutrition Fairs held yesterday in Vicksburg and today in Jackson, we are interviewing people to gain perspective and insight into hunger in our communities. Working with the National Urban League and the Mississippi Food Network, we are raising awareness of hunger in a state that, ironically, also has a high obesity rate. We have a *lot* of video stories to share, so please check back for updates. And if you are in the Jackson, Miss., area, come on by the Salvation Army Center on Beasley Rd., and learn about hunger stereotypes first hand.