Highlighting Feeding Programs in Mississippi
Hundreds of thousands of meals were provided throughout Mississippi by The Salvation Army in 2019. Those meals include home-cooked meals, home-delivered meals, meals provided at the shelter, mobile canteen meals, holiday meals, and more. The Army’s Mississippi feeding program highlights of the year are the Jackson and Tupelo locations, which collectively distributed 159,326 meals last year. These locations offer several assistance programs including grocery assistance and daily meals for their communities. They also host annual events to raise awareness and funds for their local feeding programs, such as Jackson’s SOUPer Bowl and Tupelo’s Empty Bowls.
Corps Officers: Majors Robert & Karen Lyle
The Jackson Corps helps to cure hunger by providing nutritious meals to anyone in need. In addition to addressing the immediate symptoms of food insecurity, the programs are designed to help identify and treat its root cause. This holistic approach to the needs of each person helps move many from “hungry” to “fully healed.”
Jackson provides breakfast and dinner 365 days a year at its Center of Hope as well as lunch on the weekends. The Center of Hope is an adult-only shelter that provides breakfast, dinner, counseling, and access to showers, laundry, and other amenities. Residents are also provided with assistance and tools to find employment.
Meals are also provided twice a week through the senior’s programs and once a week through a youth character development class. Food boxes are also offered to every Angel Tree family each Christmas.
A total of 43,490 meals were served and 2,827 grocery orders were distributed by the Jackson corps in 2019. The location also hosted its 23rd annual SOUPer Bowl fundraiser, the main event focused on raising funds for feeding programs, Sunday, February 2, 2020, at the Sparkman Auditorium at the Mississippi Agricultural Museum.
The event takes place every year on Superbowl Sunday and features soups and desserts donated by over 20 local restaurants and served by volunteer local celebrity servers. Past servers have included many Jackson area television and radio personalities and Miss and Mrs. Mississippi. Each year, attendees can taste as many soups and desserts as they would like and enjoy live music, a silent auction, and games.
Corps Officers: Majors Ray & Whitney Morton
“We are painfully aware that Mississippi is the most food-insecure state,” Major Whitney Morton, Tupelo Corps Officer.
Due to this awareness, Major Morton makes sure the Tupelo location is doing its best to keep the community fed and healthy.
The new Tupelo building, which opened in late 2019, features space for families, who before had to live in separate quarters, and a newly expanded Soup Kitchen.
Tupelo has a daily feeding program that serves 75-100 people at lunch and approximately 50 people for dinner. So that all meals are covered in the Tupelo area, a local church serves a hot breakfast each weekday. These meals are available to anyone in the community, free of charge.
The shelter did not have access to a kitchen during summer 2019, and the canteen had broken down and needed significant repairs. To ensure that no one went hungry in their neighborhood, nearby churches, civic groups, food trucks, and partner agencies took turns serving meals prepared off-site and brought to The Salvation Army’s parking lot.
“It was incredible to see the community in action and the church being the church in the fullest sense,” said Major Whitney Morton, Tupelo Corps Officer.
Tupelo served 115,836 meals, provided 664 grocery orders, and delivered 4,343 meals to individual’s homes. These meals are only possible through community donations of funds, food, and friendship. Many of the volunteers who prepare and serve food have been doing so for years. Each weekend for the last eight years, Stone Soup Ministry partners have made and served Saturday lunches in Tupelo. They line up volunteers, pay for the food, and prepare it in time for lunch.
Tupelo served roughly 3,000 meals with the help of 323 volunteers on Thanksgiving Day. Community members began preparation for the holiday weeks in advance, readying green bean casseroles, fluffy sweet potatoes, and dressing. Charter Tupelo Salvation Army Advisory Board member, JenniLynn Johnson, has organized the Thanksgiving Community meal for fifty years.
The Tupelo Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary hosts the community’s most significant annual spring celebration, Empty Bowls, a fundraising event to raise money for feedings at the shelter, similar to Jackson’s SOUPer Bowl. Last year’s event raised over $45,000. This year’s event is Wednesday, March 4.