The Mississippi Food Network serves 56 counties in the central part of Mississippi – a large rural service area of 32,955 square miles. In some of those areas, Mississippi Food Network does not have enough member agencies to meet the needs of people facing food insecurity. One way they combats this problem is through its Mobile Pantry program, where they take staple food boxes and fresh produce and distribute to people in those communities. Recently, the Mississippi Food Network worked with Mission of Hope, a member agency in Winona, Mississippi, on a mobile pantry distribution to help provide food to more food-insecure families in that area. Through this Mobile Pantry, Mississippi Food Network provided 160 families with 25 pounds of staple food and a smorgasbord of fresh fruits and vegetables including melons, collards, kale, broccoli, onions, carrots, and potatoes. Many of the fresh vegetables were recently donated through their partnership with Up in Farms (www.upinfarms.com). Up in Farms is a food hub working with farmers from all over the state to get farm-fresh produce in your hands in a manner of hours, not days or weeks.
During a trip to Winona, Mississippi Food Network had the honor of meeting Mr. Luther Yates, a Korean War Veteran. Living on a fixed income, Mr. Yates sometimes needs a little help having enough food to eat, so he visits the Mission of Hope Food Pantry in Winona. As a military veteran, Mr. Yates certainly has seen his share of the world, but he talks most about the hospitality of Mississippi. At 88
years of age, he likes to brag that he occasionally has to show his driver’s license to people who don’t believe him when he tells them his age, a fact that when he shares it brings the biggest grin to his face. The simple fact is that Mr. Yates is healthy, able to get around by himself, but as a retired veteran, needs a little help to make ends meet each month. While Mission of Hope helps him, he also picks up for a neighbor who isn’t able to make it to the pantry distribution — he does what he can to help those in need as well. Mr. Yates is beyond grateful for a service like this because the cost of living is much higher than he could have imagined when he thought about retirement as a younger man. He is beyond thankful for the Mission of Hope because not only do they help him each month, they know his name, make sure he feels he is a part of their family, and makes life a little easier for him.