City and nonprofit leaders in the Capital City are hoping a new anti-hunger task force can make a dent in central Mississippi's food insecurity problem. MPB's Ezra Wall reports.
Hundreds of thousands of Mississippians experience food insecurity. That's when a person doesn't have regular, predictable access to nutritious food. Charles Beady is Executive Director of the Mississippi Food Network, which supplies food to hundreds of pantries across the state.
"We're the hungriest state in the nation. Over 600,000 people in the state of Mississippi out of 2.9 million go to bed food insecure," says Beady, "not knowing where or when they're going to get their next meal."
A new effort called Jackson Meals Matter started after a mid-winter school closure meant some students unexpectedly lost access to breakfasts and lunches normally supplied by the school. A grassroots collection of nonprofits and volunteers stepped up to make sure kids in the capital city were fed. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba says solving the hunger epidemic starts with a change of mindset.
"We act as if we live in a world of scarcity when we truly live in a world of abundance," says Lumumba. "If we focus and ensure that it is our priority to ensure that no child goes hungry, then I think that we can adopt policies that are more in line with the goal of feeding everybody."
The small, nonprofit urban farm, Sow Reap Feed, only serves people within a couple of miles of its location in North Jackson. But Leanne Blalock says any community could develop similar programs all across Mississippi.
"Our main farm site is on the corner of Northside Drive and Manhattan," Blalock says. "We have 60 raised beds out there so we're growing all sorts of things and people sometimes just don't believe you can grow as much as we're growing right here in the city."
The organization Feeding America recognizes September as Hunger Action Month.