When Boyd Armstrong’s friend needed recovery from a serious automobile accident about three months ago, she mentioned to him how she would be unable to receive monthly food assistance at the local pantry at First United Methodist Church in Baldwyn, Miss. She knew, he intimated, that he could use some help just like her too.
“Soon I was able to get help, after I signed up, for me, and I needed it,” he said. “I had got low on food.”
Armstrong, who sports a long white beard and is soft-spoken, was on hand at an Oct. 6 Mobile Pantry, funded by a grant Mid-South Food Bank received from the Caterpillar Foundation aimed at helping food-insecure households in rural areas like Prentiss County, Miss., with an extra week's worth of food. He has been disabled for a few years after he lost a finger working as a machinist.
A native of Jonesboro, Ark., Armstrong drove to the Mobile Pantry with a friend. But soon after getting his car in line, his small hatchback stopped running and was forced to pull over into the middle of the parking lot.
He didn’t seemed discouraged, partly because, he said, after facing hard luck with employment and enduring health issues like high blood pressure and adapting after an amputated arm, he’s comforted that support from friends and systems like the food distributions will carry him through any crisis. “Obstacles will get worked out, just need faith,” he said.
The Mobile Pantry that day distributed over 13,000 lbs. of food for 140 households. The items included pineapples, vegetables, hams and turkeys, potatoes and cereal. Baldwyn First United Methodist Church Pastor Jim Petermann said that about 10 volunteers manage the pantry – about 15 years old and started in a closet – helping nearly 200 people monthly.
While there are only about 25,000 resident of Prentiss, the food insecurity rate is 17 percent, or about 4,300 people. Everybody living in the area seem to be familiar faces, he said, and lifting up those neighbors in need is a tie that binds.
“The pantry, helping our neighbors, is a passionate outreach for all involved. We all have gotten to know one another better, and in a more personal way,” the reverend said.