Food network

Pantries bearing the brunt of a period of record inflation

PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) – It’s like Christmas when food trucks roll in, bringing church groups and other organizations together.

“Oak Grove UMC,” shouted a delivery man.

“It’s our goal to serve people,” Nelson Flowers of Mount Beulah Missionary Baptist Church told Collins.

Mississippi Food Network, Feed Americaand Additional table are just a few partners helping to make it happen. In Hattiesburg, Christian Services is known for nurturing people and it does so in many ways.

“One of them comes through our soup kitchen and we feed people there every day Monday through Friday,” Maggie West said.

With inflation hits new 40-year high, Christain Services Director Maggie West has noticed an increase in meals and even food donations. But with the pantry shelves, slime to none West said it was becoming difficult to maintain its mission.

“It’s actually probably a third more than it was even at the peak of COVID,” West said. “So even those people, the number of unemployed was high. This number that we thought we could never reach or meet, it is higher than that now,” she said.

This also rings true for a church pantry in Sumrall.

“These shelves were completely full,” Gloria Garretson said. “We used to get five and six thousand pounds. What you saw unloaded today was two thousand pounds. Nothing like what we use to get.

Gloria Garretson said that while they buy food to keep the pantry running…it’s the donations they depend on.

“Then we have a 24-hour outdoor pantry and we don’t monitor it,” Garretson said. “We just try to keep it stocked with food and the food disappears as soon as we get it. And it didn’t last year.”

Garretson said the fight against food insecurity won’t change, but one thing that will change is the foods families would normally get. “They don’t get good meat. They don’t get dairy products. They don’t get the cheese. They don’t get the butter. They do not understand.

But with considerable help from an organization, Garretson remains hopeful.

“And now we have Extra Table and they come for us so often,” Garretson said. “Like I call and say you have rice? I just got rice, I’m so happy because we can give out carbs for Christmas and Thanksgiving,” she said.

Despite empty shelves and high inflation, both organizations will continue to work to get what they can to meet community needs.

If you would like to participate in efforts to address food insecurity in the Pinebelt, Click here.

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