Demand For Holiday Food Help Continues To ClimbBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 22 Nov 2011 09:50pm |
Food banks around Mississippi are seeing an increase in demand for free holiday meals this Thanksgiving. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that years of hard economic times are pushing more people than ever to ask for help getting enough food.
Unemployment in Mississippi has been at or near double digits for years, and the long grind of the Recession seems to be causing more Mississippians than ever to reach out for help.
Stacy Howard with Stewpot Community Services, a food bank and outreach service in Jackson says they gave out 500 holiday meals, a 25-percent increase from last year's distribution.
"Even though we have been into it now for three years, it seems that this year people have had more need than they have had in the past two years. People in Mississippi are kind of used to making do. Sometimes the recession can take a while to trickle down to some of us," Howard said.
Howard says they check the income and need of all their recipients before giving them the free food, in addition to offering education to people to end the cycle of poverty.
Long before the doors to the food bank open people line up around the corner of the red brick building and down the block.
For Mary Sutton, a retired domestic worker, this is the first time she has ever asked for help and doubts she would be able to furnish dinner without it.
"Social security is not enough to pay the utility bill and buy the food too, so I am just living pay check to pay check. (reporter: how do you feel when you come here?) I feel bless. I feel really blessed and thankful," Sutton said.
For others, a free turkey dinner is a yearly help....Anna May Phillips is also living on social security and her food stamps don't cover the additional expense of a thanksgiving meal.
"It helps a lot. It helps a lot when you aren't getting stamps. So it just helps a lot," Phillips said.
The Recession has also made it a challenge for food banks and community agencies to find donations to meet the increased demand...earlier this month Mississippi chicken farmers donated 10-thousand pounds of chicken to the state wide food bank to help meet the demand.
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