Feeding America has identified that food insecurity takes a toll on 31 Mid-South counties affecting 405,000 people, which fills up the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium six times. The top five Mid-South counties suffering: Tunica, Coahoma, and Quitman counties in Miss. and Phillips and Lee counties in Ark.
In this interactive you can see where food insecurity hits the hardest in the Mid-South, as wells as other counties in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Just click on a county to read about it. Counties in red have the highest food insecuirty, consult the map's legend for more. Scroll down to learn how you can help.
In Shelby County, where Mid-South Food Bank resides, nearly a quarter of the population is food insecure—meaning those residents including 50,000 children do not always have access to enough food and many have to skip meals to stretch their supply.
Instead of allocating resources to try and figure out the issues, the food bank works to combat the challenge. Although a variety of factors contribute: the 10 percent unemployment rate, low high school graduation, the children in poverty (that's 23 percent higher than the national average).
But the Mid-South's fight on food insecurity goes beyond the numbers and measuring the hungry just in statistics; it looks at the people as individuals, like 67-year-old Edna Clemmons who relies on a mobile food pantry that supplies goods to Brownsville, Tenn.
Along with her husband, in need of certain foods with his medication, she waits in line at 5:30 a.m. the day of distribution at Brownsville Baptist Church.
“We receive food stamps … but it’s not enough,” Clemmons said on the Mid-South Food Bank's website. “There’s still a need for others [in the community] and even for kids who I see out and about. They could be hungry too, you just don’t know about it.”
Mid-South Food Bank Marketing Manager Andrew Bell writes 18,000 pounds of food is delivered to the Tenn. city monthly.
Drives like Operation Feed makes it possible to give food to families, children, and seniors throughout the Mid-South. According to Bell, last year during the food bank's largest campaign 119 companies generated $210,000 and 57,830 pounds of food, the equivalent to 678,964 meals.
“Operation Feed is an opportunity for people in the workplace to come together
for a fun activity while helping those people who don’t have jobs and are worrying
about how to feed their families over the summer. These [summer] months are a
critical time to help the food bank because its inventory typically declines sharply.”
- Mid-South Food Bank President Estella Mayhue-Greer
Currently, the food bank's shelves are low on can fruit, protein, dry beans, and especially vegetables. Funds and food donated during the drive ending July 3 provide for the busy summer months, where children are out of school for the summer.
Food for Kids Backpack Program helps defeat the hunger that 1 in 5 Mid-South children will be faced with every weekend. $7 will fill a backpack during that time period, which shows a small donation goes a long way.
You don't have to be part of a business involved in Operation Feed to donate this summer and help some of the counties hit the hardest by food insecurity. To take action and learn more about donating, visit Mid-South Food Bank's website here: http://bit.ly/1oYZ7Vk.
Interactive and story by Ashli Blow. Email her, firstname.lastname@example.org // Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.