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More Mississippians Turning to Food Pantries This Holiday Season

By Paul Boger | Published 25 Nov 2013 08:12am | comments
Cans of vegetables, sacks of flour and bags of rice flood the shelves of the food pantry at Stewpot Community Services in Jackson.

More Mississippians need help putting food on the table this holiday season. MPB's Paul Boger reports cuts in the federal food stamp program are forcing Mississippians to turn to food banks and soup kitchens for aid.

That was Frank Spencer, the executive director of Stewpot Community Services in Jackson. As part of a tour of the organization's food pantry, Spencer points out cans of vegetables, sacks of flour and bags of rice flooding the shelves. He says donations hit their peak this time of year.

"People in the Jackson-Metro area are very generous, and schools are conducting food drives." said Spencer. "This time of year it's all we can do to handle the food that comes in quite honestly. There are other times of the year where there are shortages, but right now we are getting a lot of donations."

Food pantries typically rely on the high number of donations to prepare for the leaner months of January and February, but this year is different. More people are showing up, asking for help.

That's because, earlier this month, budget cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP -- decreased the amount Mississippians get each month in food stamps. Spencer says the cuts have forced more people to look for help.

"Demand on our food bank has gone up over that past couple of years." Spencer said. "Particularly, the impact if the food stamps have hits us in the past month. We noticed for example that the people coming for assistance for groceries was 65% higher in November than it had been in the previous month of October."

Jackson resident Deborah Dye is a Stewpot regular. Sitting in a crowded cafeteria, Dye says she's noticed more people coming to the facility looking for help.

"When I first came here they didn't even use these chairs and chairs out there weren't full, but lately everyday it's like this, packed."

Before the budget cuts, more than 667 thousand Mississippians were on food stamps, receiving on average $124 a month in aid.


Cans of vegetables, sacks of flour and bags of rice flood the shelves of the food pantry at Stewpot Community Services in Jackson.



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