Food insecurity is prevalent across 31 Mid-South counties. For every five children in the region, one faces food insecurity.
The zip code 38107 includes the town and Memphis suburb of Collierville, and this summer marked the second year that about 20 volunteers from the Junior Auxiliary Club of Collierville have helped sponsor and oversee 10 families, including 34 children receive much-needed food assistance during summer break. It marks the fourth location of Summer Harvest feeding program, one of Mid-South Food Bank’s multiple child hunger programs.
Margaret Chambers and her friend, Denise Channel, were helping to box the food for July’s distribution, inside the school’s gymnasium. After helping, Chambers loaded up her vehicle with boxes containing about three weeks’ of food designated for her daughter who is a single mom raising three children, including two in elementary one on in high school.
“My daughter works on the assembly line at Post Cereal, and I’m her children’s babysitter during the summer. The food is a big help and especially with helping to afford to pay the rent as well as utilities,” Chambers said.
Auxiliary volunteer Maggie Ubel explained that the summer boxes are an extension of the Food for Kids BackPack program at the school, which the Auxiliary sponsors. It provides children with six meals every weekend during the school year. The school’s counselor coordinates the Summer Harvest program and it’s available for families in Collierville, not exclusively CES.
Ubel said that it’s a typical response for Collierville residents to be surprised that there are many families in the town that struggle with food insecurity.
“Our club’s goal is for us to be a continual resource for these families year-round, even if it means we serve as just a liaison for connecting them to what they need,” said the club’s president, Jennifer Durley. “We want to help kids in our community.”
Those needs include the food and other household supplies that Beverly Benton, a single parent raising four children and one nephew, collected. She struggled to find the right words to express what the help means.
With this help, “They have plenty to eat, and they especially enjoy getting the milk and cereal. Every kid loves that, and I love seeing them it. It’s healthy for them,” Benton said.