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In Alcorn County, Providing Food Integral to Community Outreach

Not having much income has taught Mary Crum, 73, and her daughter, Sherry Hensley, 57, one constant about surviving from one month to the next.

“If we don’t really need it, we don’t buy it,” said Mary about purchasing groceries.

The two gratefully visited the Church of the Crossroads in Corinth, Miss., on Feb. 3 to pick up an additional week’s worth of food from a Mobile Pantry. Both have been coming to get help at the church’s pantry for several years and were on the list of pre-screened, eligible clients notified by organizers of the Mobile Pantry - a supplemental delivery of food from Mid-South Food Bank that includes assorted meats, fresh produce and bakery items.

Mary’s second daughter, Betty Elam, also gets assistance from the same pantry. They have no expectations on the kinds of food that are offered. They are just appreciative.

Sometimes, when utility bills are higher than normal, or other unexpected costs are confronted, both said they look for help where they can.

“We juggle what we can. The food is a blessing. We couldn’t make it without it,” Mary said.

Donnie Waldrop, a pastor at Crossroads, says its pantry is open three days a week, and distributes food to about 60 households weekly.

“Between the food we order from Mid-South Food Bank and pickups at Walmart, our ability to help has been tremendous,” Waldrop said.

The food insecurity rate in Alcorn County is 18 percent, according to Feeding America. Waldrop estimates that the demographics of clients getting food is a mix, yet a considerable number of them are families with children.

Robert West, one of about 30 volunteers at the Mobile Pantry which, on that day, helped 400 households, says he and a few others make regular rounds at a low-income housing project with 140 apartments that he grew up in, making sure that residents are OK. He tries to help by checking in on seniors and offering to pay utility bills, if needed.

“We provide flyers with information on how to get help, like contacts to pantries, where we see it’s needed,” he said.

While he acknowledged that there’s a significant support group for people in need in the county, more people need to be vocal on the needs that they see, he said.

“Everyone falls on hard times, or can fall on a hard time. We, as a community, don’t need to wait to reach out and say something about it, and offer help.”

Mid-South Food Bank holds about a dozen Mobile Pantries each month throughout its 31-county distribution area. The Mobile Pantry in Corinth was its first of additional ones offered by Mid-South Food Bank, which received funding from a Caterpillar Foundation grant to distribute food for food-insecure people in rural areas like Alcorn County.

Posted by Andrew Bell at 1:38 PM
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