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Mississippi Hunger Summit set for Oxford

The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, in partnership with the Community First Research Center for Wellbeing & Creative Achievement (CREW) at the University of Mississippi, Delta Directions Consortium, as well as the Maddox Foundation and Maddox Foundation Nonprofit and Volunteer Resource Hub is pleased to announce the 2023 “Mississippi Hunger Summit.” This event will take place on Friday, Oct. 20, at the Oxford Conference Center. 

The Mississippi Hunger Summit is an inclusive gathering open to representatives from food pantries and nonprofits offering feeding programs within the Community Foundation service  area. In attendance will also be state agencies, officials, academics, and other stakeholders who  are dedicated to addressing the issue of food insecurity, which has become increasingly pressing as the rising cost of groceries drives more Mississippians to seek assistance from food pantries. 

The central goal of this summit is to establish vital connections between food pantries and  potential resources that can better serve their communities. It encourages participants to explore innovative approaches that go beyond the traditional pantry model. 

The event will feature panel discussions covering critical topics, including how to resource food  pantries, the role of farmers in addressing food insecurity, understanding the impact of food  insecurity in educational settings, and exploring the concept of food pantries as community  connectors. Dr. Scott Hambleton from Molina Healthcare will be the keynote lunch speaker,  providing insights into the intersection of mental health and food insecurity. 

The FEED Fund was initiated in 2020 at the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi in response to the pandemic. The staff observed that a significant number of schoolchildren, who typically relied on school meals, were going hungry at home due to pandemic-related disruptions. Simultaneously, local food pantries struggled to meet the surging demand. 

Brenda Smith, Co-Director of the Maddox Foundation Nonprofit and Volunteer Resource Hub, was among the first to identify this growing need within the community. She promptly embarked on efforts to secure the necessary funding to provide meals to those in need.

“Aside from supplying food to children, the FEED Fund also aids food pantries in enhancing their operations,” Smith said. “The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi and Maddox Nonprofit and Volunteer Resource Hub staff put in dedicated efforts to assist pantries in transitioning to safe drive-through delivery systems and using innovative methods to serve the  community. Recognizing the pressing need for pantry improvements, staff found that many lacked adequate refrigeration and freezer space, as well as pallet jacks to streamline food handling with fewer volunteers.” 

The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, in addition to the Maddox Nonprofit and Volunteer Resource Hub, through the FEED Fund and the Hunger Summit, is dedicated to  helping nonprofits to enhance their abilities in developing innovative solutions to address their  communities’ needs. 

Jillian Morrison, Delta Legal Fellow, has been a key organizer in this year’s “Mississippi Hunger Summit” and expressed her enthusiasm about the event.

“We are so excited to build off the momentum of the FEED Fund initiative and bring  together our food pantries and others working in the food insecurity space,” Morrison stated. “Food  insecurity isn’t going away, and we need to collaborate on strategies to address this growing need  moving forward. Nonprofits, academic institutions, state agencies and philanthropic partners all  have important parts to play in addressing food insecurity. The Hunger Summit is an important step towards building sustainable partnerships and collaboration moving forward.” 

For more information about this program or the Community Foundation, call 662-449-5002 or visit  www.cfnm.org

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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