Nearly 80-percent of Mississippians who visit a food bank are choosing between buying food and pay for other life essentials such as medicine, transportation or utilities. Even in a growing economy Mississippians are seeking help at rates much higher than the rest of the nation.
The survey was performed by the Mississippi Food Network, which serves more than a million and a half Mississippians a year.
It shows that Mississippians are still choosing between buying food and other necessities like rent and education.
Food Network CEO Charles Beady says slow improvement in the economy has done little to alleviate hunger in the state.
"The folks that we service are in need of the service. The need for feeding people in Mississippi is still very high," Beady said.
The demand for food has not declined since the Great Recession, with the network distributing 20-million pounds of food a year.
Part of the problem, according to the Food Network, is that even has more people head back to work wages are not raising to keep up with the cost of living, including medicine, gasoline, and rent.
Katrice Banks with the Jackson based food pantry Stewpot says many people choose to spend money on other items because food is available at pantries while things like medicine are not.
"I think on average the medicine has gone up. Between buying Medicine and food, I think I will shoot for the Medicine," Banks said.
In addition to skipping on buying other essentials, the survey found many Mississippians using food pantries are also cutting corners to stretch their food by eating expired food, watering food down, or selling personal items.