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Mississippi Rated the Most Food Insecure State in the Nation

By Rhonda Miller | Published 21 Jun 2012 07:25pm | comments
Larry Silk volunteers at the food pantry at Back Bay Mission in Biloxi.

Mississippi has the highest rate of food insecurity in the nation - one out of five people don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports a new project aims to put food on more tables across the state.

In the food pantry at Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, volunteer Larry Silk goes from to shelf to shelf filling a plastic grocery bag.

"...your rice, your beans, your noodles, spaghetti, cereal for the kids, your meat, the USDA gives us, and your vegetables…" 

Then Silk goes over to the refrigerator.

"And if they have kids, when we have it ,and when we have the money to buy it, we give them a pack of hot dogs." "You’re refrigerator’s pretty empty." "Both of them. It’s been that way for about two weeks now. "

The food pantry gives bags of food to nearly 400 families a month.

Emergency Assistance Caseworker Jill Cartledge says more people have been coming in this year than any time in the past four years. She says the pantry is desperately short of food.

"We have so many people in Mississippi who are without work, and there is no way for them to feed their families. In a lot of cases, they’re having to choose between paying a utility bill or their rent or feeding their children."

More than 600,000 people in Mississippi don’t know where their next meal is coming from, according to Feeding America, a group that works with food banks across the country.

A new collaboration called Hunger Project Mississippi aims to get food to into more locations across the state.  One of the partners in the collaboration is the Urban League of Greater Jackson.  Chairman of the Board Tony Gaylor says hunger is part of a complex problem.

"We know that the state of Mississippi, without question, is the most obese state in this country. We also have one of the higher rates of diabetes and other ailments associated with non-healthy eating. We’re hoping once we can put people in touch with food distribution networks, they can also learn how they’re supposed to prepare this food they get."

The Hunger Project will work with churches and community groups across the state to establish more food pantries and soup kitchens. 



Larry Silk volunteers at the food pantry at Back Bay Mission in Biloxi.



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