Special Assignment: Thankful During a Pandemic

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 3:56 PM CST
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Furloughs, layoffs and terminations- the coronavirus pandemic is causing economic and financial hardship in communities across Mississippi. Some families aren’t sure where they’ll get their next meal.

Director of External Affairs at Mississippi’s Food Network says, “In Mississippi, we have almost half a million people that are food insecure. And one in four of those are children.”

There “is” hope.

Non-profit agencies we talked to say COVID-19 triggered food shortage in Mississippi which is now at a crisis point. The situation will only get worse during the holidays.

Local non-profits say they are ready.

“We want to make sure that the people of our community do not go hungry,” Lieutenant Tamara Robb at Salvation Army in Meridian said. “And so, we team up with other organizations. If they’re serving lunch, like L.O.V. E’s Kitchen, then we serve the evening meals.”

The Salvation Army fights hunger and homelessness across the U.S. The local branch in Meridian has doubled the number of evening meals it has served since March when the pandemic first hit. The agency’s drive-through food handout has quadrupled.

Executive Director, Fannie Johnson says things have also been a lot busier at L.O.V.E.’S Kitchen in Meridian. “We feel blessed to be the place that can be here when people need us.”

More people are turning to state and federally funded food assistance during the pandemic. The Mississippi Department of Human Services says $600-million dollars in SNAP benefits were issued between March and October.

The Chief Communications Officer, Danny Blanton says the Mississippi Department of Human Services focuses on food deserts when providing benefits to those who really need it. “In Lauderdale county alone, we’ve distributed more than eighteen million dollars in snap benefits over the last eight months.”

Thankful during a pandemic. We talked to a few people who say local non-profits have given them hope for the holidays.

Isaac Robinson has unexpectedly depended on the Salvation Army this year for food and shelter. Robinson says he is so thankful. “Salvation to me means deliverance. And it has helped me through this pandemic episode in my life.”

The Salvation Army will still have the drive-through food distributions for Thanksgiving. The agency plans to serve Thanksgiving dinner as their evening meal between 5:30- 6:30 p.m.

L.O.V.E.’S Kitchen will also still hand out to-go plates Thanksgiving Day from 11 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. “Thanksgiving is a little extra. It’ll be over the top. It’ll be a bigger better plate.” Johnson said, “We wish everybody a happy Thanksgiving we want to say thank you to the community because without them we wouldn’t be able to do this.”

Mott says every dollar donated provides six meals for a hungry family. To donate to the Mississippi food network, click here.

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