Mid-South Meals Financial institution: A take a look at Memphis charity's historical past, mission – Industrial Enchantment

The Mid-South Food Bank has held the identical mission for the previous 4 many years: Change lives by eliminating starvation within the Mid-South.

Based in 1981, the Mid-South Meals Financial institution is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this 12 months. (The celebration was delayed from final 12 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.)

On common, the meals financial institution serves 50,000 households in a single month, with about 280,000 people served annually.

“We proceed to see an excellent want for meals in our group,” stated Cathy Pope, Mid-South Meals Financial institution president and CEO. “With elevated meals costs, fuel, lease and utilities, traces at our meals distribution proceed to be lengthy. We need to be sure that our households are getting the nutritious meals they should be wholesome and thrive. Our mission is to alter lives by eliminating starvation within the Mid-South, and with the help of our group, that’s simply what we work on daily.”

The Mid-South Food Bank at 3865 S. Perkins Road.

The meals financial institution opened in November 1981 with seven accomplice companies consisting of meals pantries and soup kitchens. Pope stated getting these seven to return on board was not simple. 

“They discovered it exhausting to consider that they may pay 10 cents a pound for meals and get something respectable,” she stated. “The very first purchasing listing featured grapefruit juice and beef bouillon and little else.”

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Over time, the service has expanded because the group shifted from initially being a part of MIFA, to changing into a member of Feeding America (the nationwide community of meals banks) to ultimately changing into an impartial 501(c)(3) charitable group.

As we speak, the Mid-South Meals Financial institution serves 31 counties within the area.

We sat down with the Mid-South Meals Financial institution workforce to debate the meals financial institution and the necessity for its companies.

Mary Jane Woodford was a food sorting volunteer at the Mid-South Food Bank on Nov, 8, 2022.

Q: What’s the want right now in Memphis to your companies?

Cathy Pope, Mid-South Meals Financial institution president and CEO: “The necessity has continued to stay excessive in comparison with pre-pandemic numbers. On account of inflation, our companies are reporting seeing extra households with youngsters. In 2019, Shelby County had a meals insecurity price of 12.4%. In 2020, that price elevated to 13.7% with 128,000 meals insecure people simply in Shelby County alone. In all 31 counties we serve, we now have over 300,000 meals insecure people.”

Southwest Community Development volunteer Andre Burgess  Jr. and his son Tracie shop at the Mid-South Food Bank's Agency Mart on Nov. 8, 2022.

Q: How did the pandemic affect the necessity to your companies?

Pope: “Previous to the pandemic, our meals financial institution served 16.7 million kilos of meals a 12 months. Through the top of the pandemic, we served 55 million kilos of meals in our 31 counties. We’re at about 30 million kilos a 12 months at present. It has turn out to be more difficult discovering meals within the portions we want it. However we proceed to work on that daily.”

Q: How has the meals financial institution modified through the years?

Pope: “Mid-South Meals Financial institution has grown from serving six counties to 31 counties. We now supply a mess of companies: cellular pantries, baby vitamin (BackPack and Youngsters Café), senior bins, the NOW (Diet on Wheels) Truck, rural routes, Door Sprint bins (meals delivered on to houses), a Diaper Financial institution (diapers, female merchandise and grownup incontinence merchandise) and SNAP Help.”

Mid-South Food Bank Director of Agency Partnerships and Program Services Shari Douglas (far left), Diaper Bank manager Dornesha White (middle), and Sir Lawrence Crutcher (right) sort diapers for the Diaper Bank.

Q: In 2019, the Mid-South Meals Financial institution moved to its present (and bigger) location. How has the transfer improved your outreach?

Pope: “This new facility made all of the distinction in how we now have served the group throughout the pandemic. Now we have been in a position to flip round massive portions of meals shortly due to the extra sq. footage. We at present have massive freezer and cooler house and elevated the variety of meals served due to that house. The group made this warehouse attainable, and we proceed to be thankful for that help.”

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Q: What number of meals does a $1 donation present?

Pope: “Our purpose for this subsequent 12 months is 36 million kilos served, and $1 serves three meals as we’re getting meals from totally different sources — bought, USDA commodities and donated.”

Q: How is the meals financial institution depending on volunteers?

Hayes Leslie, Mid-South Meals Financial institution volunteer supervisor: “It takes as much as 500 volunteer man-hours per week to type and pack donations. This can be a volunteer-only process and we don’t use any workers.”

The Mid-South Food Bank picks up a donation of food.

Q: What’s the largest want for donations?

Nicole Johnson-Willis, Mid-South Meals Financial institution advertising and marketing and communications supervisor: “Now we have a necessity for non-perishable meals gadgets like canned meats (like tuna and hen), chunky-style soups and chili, peanut butter, canned fruit and greens, dried beans and rice. We additionally want non-food gadgets like paper towels, bathroom paper, private hygiene merchandise, cleansing provides and diapers.

“Non-perishable gadgets are all the time accepted, however financial donations make a much bigger affect. For each $10 donated, Mid-South Meals Financial institution can present 30 nutritious meals.”

Allison Bennett (right) and her daughter Bryn Bennett volunteered to sort food at the Mid-South Food Bank on Nov. 8, 2022.

Q: What’s one of the simplest ways to help the meals financial institution?

Pope: “Go to our web site midsouthfoodbank.org to donate meals, funds or schedule a time to volunteer.”

Jennifer Chandler is the Meals & Eating reporter at The Industrial Enchantment. She may be reached at [email protected] and you’ll comply with her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.

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