Over 83% of Food Distributed by Mid-South Food Bank is High Nutritious Value
If you only had $1.40 to spend on a meal, would you buy 1 head of lettuce or 3 boxes of macaroni and cheese? For thousands of our Mid-South neighbors, that’s a daily and weekly choice. The average monthly SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often called food stamps) benefit per person in Tennessee is $132.20, which works out to roughly $4.41 per person per day, or $1.48 per meal. For a household, the monthly average is $271.50. To feed a family on such a limited budget, fresh produce and other healthy food often don't fit in.
Mid-South Food Bank is working to expand access to fresh produce and other healthy foods to the nearly half a million Mid-Southerners in need. We work to distribute nutritious food. That includes efforts to provide the healthiest options possible, from lean protein to low-sodium canned foods and products without extra sugar and corn syrup. And as much fresh produce possible.
Lots of fresh produce is distributed through the Mobile Pantry Program. The Food Bank brings truckloads of food to be distributed directly to households. A Mobile Pantry distributes as much as 50,000 pounds of food at each visit. The Kids Café program also benefits from available fresh produce. Kids Cafes around the area serve kids nutritious hot meals in a safe environment and volunteers teach important lessons about nutrition. Produce also makes its way to shelves of the shopping area that supply agencies like soup kitchens.
Hunger is a health issue.
Obesity is a marker for poor nutrition. It is not simply that people eat too much, but that the food they have access to is not nutritionally complete. If a head of lettuce costs $1 and a box of instant noodles cost 39 cents, that is often the choice that has to be made. Poor nutrition can also lead to increased rates of diabetes and other diseases. Kids who aren’t eating well have trouble concentrating and behaving in school, and that affects their overall achievement. For seniors, the choice is sometimes medicine, transportation to a doctor, or healthy food. And poor nutrition has an affect on the elderly too, making it more difficult to recover from illness or injury or to fight conditions like osteoporosis or heart disease. Incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables is not just about staving off hunger, it’s about building stronger bodies.
In the Mid-South, nearly 21% of the population struggles with hunger and food insecurity. Food insecurity means that you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. It might be the last days of your pay period and there is no money left or the last week before your next benefit check. It might mean you live in an area where transportation costs are high and there is no ready access to grocery stores - a food desert. People in need make use of food pantries, soup kitchens and other agencies supported by Mid-South Food Bank to fill the gap. We serves 31 counties in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi through 230 partner agencies with 296 charitable feeding program. Our service area includes some of the highest rates of food insecurity, so it is monumental task.