Food Bank begins

Published 5:00 am Friday, August 25, 2000

” . . . For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty andyou gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in . . .(Matthew 25:35).”

” . . . For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty andyou gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in . . .(Matthew 25:35).”

That’s the underlying vision behind the South CentralMississippi Food Bank’s “Cans for Christ” project launched thismonth to provide food for area needy.

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“Charity begins with those around you. It starts at home. Wewant to show the love of Christ right here around us,” said Bro.Jerry Durr, who is spearheading the overall effort. “As a foodbank, that’s what we’re endeavoring to do.”

The South Central Mississippi Food Bank, an extension of theMississippi Food Network in Jackson, serves nine surroundingcounties and ships food from the Brookhaven headquarters tocharitable organizations in these counties every month. Thosesupplies are used to feed the poor and needy in the communities.Counties involved include Jefferson Davis, Lincoln, Franklin,Amite, Walthall, Pike, Wilkinson, Lawrence and Marion.

Since June 1999 until the present date, 761,392 pounds of foodhave been sent to these counties, an average of 15,000-20,000monthly, said Chris Buie, operations manager for the food bank.

The food is shipped to churches and other groups with foodpantries, soup kitchens and organizations that provide food tosenior citizens, among other agencies, Durr explained. Each agencyis required to establish its own clientele and do a monthly reportof the individuals and families it serves. That report, Durrexplained, is sent to the Department of Human Services in Jackson,which thus assesses the amount of need in this area of thestate.

“We try to help the agencies be there to meet the needs in thatlocal community,” said Durr.

The South Central Mississippi Food Bank is hoping to conduct theCans for Christ project annually to bring the entire communitytogether to help the needy, Durr said.

“This is the first year we’ve actually done Cans for Christ,” headded.

The food drive is to collect those items which are not normallydonated by suppliers and are at a greater demand during the comingmonths.

“We’re moving into the months that agencies require a lot offood, particularly around Thanksgiving . . . from October throughDecember,” Durr said. “Those are usually the most crucial monthsthat charitable organizations have because of the influx of peoplethen.”

A spearhead committee kicked off the food drive effort earlierthis month, and it will last until November 11, 2000.

Organizers are asking that residents, churches, organizationsand groups collect products such as sugar, corn meal, flour,powdered milk in small packs, pasta, cans of fruit and vegetables,grits, rice, oatmeal and cooking oil.

“We’re asking that each church pick at least two items tosupply. We need the participation of all the churches in thenine-county area,” Durr added.

September 14, 2000, will be the first pickup day for the foodcollected. Food can be brought to the food bank at 101 East CourtStreet or arrangements can be made in advance by calling 833-8889for someone to pick it up.

So far, the response from individuals has been positive,according to Durr.

“The churches have been contacting us and telling us they’regoing to participate. We’re hoping for good success,” he said.

In areas where employment opportunities are slim, the need forthe supplies is great, Durr said. He is hoping the “Cans forChrist” effort will offset some of that need.

“In places like Prentiss, so many are out of jobs and in direneed of food,” he said, adding that this food drive will eliminatethe need to continually order supplies to keep up with thedemand.

The food bank is separate from Brookhaven Outreach Ministrieswhere the donations of local suppliers stay right here in LincolnCounty to meet the needs of people here, Durr stressed.

The food bank is also eager to address the demands in countieswhere the need is great, there is not already a congregate feedingsite or food pantry and they are not within a certain range ofanother site, said Durr.

He says it’s going to take the involvement of as many who willparticipate to make this event a success.

“This is really a community effort. We want to thank theMississippi Food Network for all they do to make it possible for usto give in South Central Mississippi.”

In giving to the food drive, residents, he hopes, will rememberthe true meaning behind the ministry.

“Truly we are our brother’s keeper and helpers one to another,”he said.