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Locals are fighting for everyone to have food security

Ensuring that everyone has adequate access to food takes work.

First United Methodist Church in Brookhaven will host a food security meeting Dec.12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for interested parties in Southwest Mississippi.

“Almost 200,000 households in Mississippi experienced food insecurity from 2015-2017,” Erin Smith said.

Smith, who is involved in organizing the event, said she was drawn to the church because of its Blessings in a Backpack program.

“On a weekly basis, about 250 children across the county receive a Blessing in a Backpack, where otherwise they might go hungry,” Smith said. “So I reached out to their pastor and they really got on board. They’re really doing great things at that church to battle food security matters at a local level.”

In addition to being vice chairperson for the Brookhaven School District Board of Trustees, Smith is also program director for the Double Up Food Bucks Mississippi program through the Jackson Medical Mall Program.

“This food security world is real for me on so many different levels,” Smith said. “I work with farmers across the state of Mississippi … It’s a worthy cause and something I live out every single day.”

Smith is also working to get the word out about the meeting, which is one of several food security meetings across the state. According to Smith, the goal of the meetings are to build a collective combating hunger in Mississippi by increasing statewide capacity, advocating for legislative solutions and sharing information across disparate communities and organizations.

“It’s kind of a multi-organizational approach to get the word out,” Smith said. “We’ve got a lot of different folks on the agenda. The First United Methodist Church is a perfect fit to host the meeting.”

Smith described the meeting as “action-oriented.” Each week, about 250 children across Brookhaven and Lincoln County receive food through the church’s Blessings in a Backpack program, and the people attending the meeting will help package food for the program. Local programs like these are especially important in Mississippi because, according to Smith, one in five people in the state lives in poverty.

“Food security affects everybody,” Smith said. “We all have to eat and should take interest in what’s going into our bodies.”

Interested parties can contact Smith at esmith@jacksonmedicalmall.org for more information.