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Stewpot serving more, needs more

Stewpot is now serving more free daily meals than ever. The number of meals has rapidly increased from the 2013 yearly average of 260 per day to 330 average per day with some days reaching 380.

We also expect the usual increase when school is out. The increase is in the number of people who eat in our dining room — many have not eaten here in the past. Most of the new people coming in to eat are elderly.

The number of delivered meals has remained constant.

Our policy has always been that anyone who eats a meal on site is served without question; we will continue this policy while we can.

Because of the above, money and food gifts must be more in 2014. We project a budget of $99,000 compared to $89,000 in 2013, when total costs were 80 cents per meal.

To handle the increased number of meals and for other new requirements, we have hired an additional cook, bringing our total paid employees to two. No one else receives any paid compensation for the work they do at or for the Stewpot.

Our goal is to maintain $25,000 in the bank to insure we can cover operating expenses for three months during lean times.We haven’t always been able to do this.

Receiving food donations are necessary to keep costs down. Sometimes our pantry is full, sometimes almost empty.

We purchase from the Mississippi Food Network, local wholesalers and local businesses.

We use a lot of food: as a benchmark food required for 300 “typical” daily meals:

4120 regular size cans of vegetables

425 pounds of rice or potatoes or beans

4250 pieces of chicken

4300 and-a-half slices of bread (eight loaves)

4600 cookies

We are rapidly using up the deer meat received last fall from the Hunters for the Hungry and Dunn’s Deer Market. Currently, we regularly receive gifts of meat from Hicks Distributing and pizzas from the Pizza Hut organization.

This year we are counting on receiving lots of non-perishable food from:

4Post Office Union annual “Pick Up Day” on May 10

4Blueberry Fesitval

4Supervisors food drive in the fall

Please support these even more this year. Of course, we receive and need food donations from many groups, individuals, etc.

We will keep costs low even though serving more meals.

We may have to cut and limit meals served because of facility size and work load.

Natchez will continue to insure that people will not go hungry — the elderly, sick, disabled, unemployed, homeless, transient, etc. The needy will always have a place they can go for a meal — the Stewpot.

Please continue your gifts and up them just a little. I am sure that Natchez will continue to meet the challenge.


Louis Gunning is the Stewpot director.