Hunger Coalition announces summer feeding initiatives, makes major donation

By: Cristina carreon

TUPELO – The Hunger Coalition announced a new partnership and awarded a significant donation at a press conference Wednesday morning.

Coalition director Jason Martin announced a partnership with state-supported nonprofit Families First for Mississippi and presented a check of $25,000 to Mid-South Food Bank to support its Summer Backpack Program.

“Together we are pledging to raise awareness about food insecurity in Lee County and beyond. This summer we will start the work by providing food for eligible children in grades kindergarten through rising seventh-graders in Tupelo, Lee and Baldwyn,” Martin said.

The Coalition announced its three major partners at the meeting, which include Families First for Mississippi, United Way of Northeast Mississippi and the CREATE Foundation. Coalition leaders also introduced the organization’s 12-member board of directors, who are pledging together to feed 600 hungry children in Lee County this summer.

Martin, who was hired in early March of 2018, said he will work closely with Mid-South for the coalition’s Summer Backpack Program, as well as on other local feeding programs going forward.

“In most cases, throughout the school year these children receive food as part of the free and reduced lunch program and also participate in the backpack program that goes on during the school year,” Martin said. “The problem is during the summer they don’t receive either of those resources and go hungry.”

According to a recent press release from the Coalition, 19.2 percent of Lee County residents are food insecure.

Although Mid-South distributed 1,245,139 pounds of food to Lee County in 2015, it would take more than 3,000,000 pounds of food to fully meet the needs of low-income residents facing hunger.

“We will pool this money with other sources that we have, which will allow us to buy product by the truckload at a good price,” said Mid-South CEO Estelle Greer-Mayhew. “This collaboration in Lee County is an example. I hope that we can duplicate and share, not just here and in the other counties in Mississippi, but also in the Tennessee and Arkansas counties we serve.”

Next week will be the Coalition’s first major event since its formation in late 2016 – a major food packaging volunteer event at BancorpSouth Arena, where more than 300 people are expected to attend.

The Summer Backpack Program will run for nine weeks this summer from June 4 to the week of July 30.

Volunteers will put together 5,400 packages of food to be placed into the backpacks of students on a list of 600 children found to be food insecure in the area.

Organizers are encouraging private individuals as well as businesses, school groups and church youth groups to attend the volunteer meetup at BancorpSouth Arena Thursday May 31 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

To sign up or find more information about the volunteer event, visit