Volunteers needed at food pantry

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 17, 2009

NATCHEZ — Sometimes, when light bills and rent are paid, the working poor don’t have enough money to buy food.

And that’s where the Natchez Food Pantry steps in.

“We have a lot of single mothers working part time, and this is the only extra food they can get for their children, and so we need all the help we can get to help them,” Supervisor Tommy Jackson said.

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Qualifications to receive food pantry services is based on income, starting at an income of $1,300 or less a month for a single-person family, Jackson said.

Most of the food recipients are between the age of 60 and 90, and qualify because they’re living on Social Security or retirement benefits.

“When their income is $400 a month, they don’t have anything left over to buy food after they pay bills,” Jackson said. “It is a sad situation when they have to live like that.”

The pantry — which is run by Catholic Charities — has approximately 1,000 families approved for its monthly food distribution, but Jackson said approximately 700 families come month to month.

“Those who don’t need the food that month don’t show, and that helps us help others who do need it,” he said.

The pantry’s monthly food distribution gives recipients enough canned goods and frozen foods to last approximately a week.

The food comes from both items donated from the community and the National Harvest Foundation, which allows the pantry to buy $20 worth of food for $1.

“That works out really well for us,” Jackson said.

Almost every church in town sends either food or money to the pantry every month, and Jackson said several groups around town have routine can drives for the pantry.

And anyone who wants to donate cans or money can do so, he said.

One of the biggest needs the pantry has is for volunteers to help with the food distribution, he said.

“They could come in any Wednesday and register with us, and we will let them know the days and time we are giving out food, and we need all the help we can get to give out food,” he said.

Applications for the monthly food distribution are accepted every Wednesday between 1:30 and 3 p.m., at the pantry, though Jackson said the next time the pantry will accept applications won’t be until January.

The pantry is located in the old Dodge Automotive building at 212 North Shields Lane.

For more information, contact Catholic Charities at 601-442-4579.