The first DeSoto County Hunger summit held in April presented through a partnership between the Community foundation of Northwest Mississippi, DeSoto County Regional Health Council, and Volunteer Northwest Mississippi (a program of the Community Foundation). Featured guest speakers included Dr. D.D. Sidhu, DeSoto Children’s Clinic and Mike Dixon of Extra Table, Hattisburg. The 140 attendees participated in six sessions ranging from Feeding the Working Poor to Hungernomics including its Web Portal. The Summit was planned and implemented by the Hunger Summit Planning Committee.
As a follow-up to the Summit, organizations attending and having a plan to continue the fight against hunger in DeSoto County were given the opportunity to apply for a mini-grant to further their cause. The following is a list of the grantees:

Hernando’s New Bethany Baptist Church Summer Enrichment Ministry provides children with learning experiences, physical fitness, and meals.   While school is out, many of the children attending Summer Enrichment do not get enough to eat so the goal is to provide healthy meals. The ministry works with the families to improve the level of cooking proficiency in the home providing each family with a crock pot and healthy, easy to prepare recipes.

The Society of St. Andrew, Mississippi’s Gleaning Network, will host a ‘Crop Drop’ in Hernando. The ‘Crop Drop’ will provide approximately 20,000 lbs. of gleaned produce to be packed by volunteers and picked up by local agencies for distribution to those in need.

Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church (Hernando) Feed the Need Program provides meals to the less fortunate, the sick and bereaved to help alleviate the food preparation burden of the caregiver and to help supplement the family’s limited financial resources. Feed the Need also works with the church’s food pantry to ensure non-perishable food items are available to those who need them the most.

DeSoto Grace’s Tower Gardens project consists of three vertical, aeroponic growing systems for up to twenty different vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers to grow using less square footage then traditional gardens. Food produced will be distributed to the families participating in DeSoto Grace programs representing approximately 200 people. DeSoto Grace’s youth will be fully involved in the planting and cultivating of the produce.

Get Covered Mississippi’s Hernando Community Cooking Matters Initiative is an inter-generational effort to teach youth how to cook healthy meals in collaboration with seasoned seniors. Through a series of workshops families will work together to make smart purchases with limited food purchasing resources. The Cooking Matters Team will show families how to take a ‘team’ cooking approach getting the entire family involved preparing meals from scratch. These efforts will reduce hunger and teach healthy eating habits.

Fish-N-Loaves’ On-Demand Bread Boxes (2) will be placed in areas where those in need can have access to nonperishable foods. One will be unsecured and readily available with no tracking of participants while the other will be locked (participants will have an access code) and number of participants and items taken will be tracked to measure the need and demand. This effort will be launched with a media and social media campaign.

Austin Run/Southern Pines, national church residences in Horn Lake, provides housing for seniors, the disabled, single mothers and formerly homeless families. The Salad Table Project will allow the seniors and those unable to work the ground to plant and cultivate produce on tables at both of the housing locations. What is grow will be harvested and prepared for meals for the residents.

Heartland Hands Food Pantry provides food to 2,000 low income families of Horn Lake and Southaven. The grant funds will be used to purchase shelf staple foods as supply is depleted. Heartland Hands is in its 11th year of feeding the need.

Hernando United Methodist Church’s 5 Loaves 2 Fish Outreach Ministry provides food for children faced with food insecurities during the summer months. Working with the Mid-South Food Bank and Catholic Social Services, this years’ goal, with assistance from the mini-grant, is to serve 70 families with weekday and weekend food boxes.