Fundraisers fill pantry at Natchez Stewpot

Published 12:05 am Thursday, January 22, 2015

Joe Green eats lunch at Stewpot Wednesday. The past holiday season was the best fundraising effort in Stewpot’s history. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Joe Green eats lunch at Stewpot Wednesday. The past holiday season was the best fundraising effort in Stewpot’s history. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Thanks to a successful fundraiser in December, the Stewpot’s pantry is full — for now.

Although Thanksgiving and Christmas are always the busiest times of the year at the Stewpot, this year was the best holiday season in its history in terms of fundraising, Director Louis Gunning said.

The Stewpot in large part has the Adams County Board of Supervisors to thank for that.

Supervisors organized a fundraiser by setting up food drives at Natchez grocery stores at which residents could drop off donations.

“(The supervisors) really did good,” Stewpot head cook Johnnie Davis said.

The holiday season, which typically brings in enough donations to keep the organization running for the first months of the year, brought in enough this year to keep the organization running for the next six to seven months.

“The pantry is full, which is very unusual,” Gunning said.

Both Gunning and Davis praised the supervisors’ food drive and those who donated to it.

While thankful for the generosity of community members, Stewpot officials still stress that the donations will run out.

Gunning said more, frequent donations are crucial to the organization’s ability to feed the homeless over the next calendar year.

“It’s obvious, too, that we depend on (the holiday season) because during the non-Thanksgiving and Christmas period, we don’t get enough donations to run on,” Gunning said.

He hopes Empty Bowls, an upcoming fundraiser, will raise funds to aid in continuing Stewpot operations until the next holiday season.

Those who attend the event will receive a warm serving of gumbo in a homemade clay bowl of their choosing. Attendees can then take the bowl home with them, event chairwoman Amanda Jeansonne said.

The event will be at Natchez Clay, located at 101 Clifton Ave., on Sunday, Feb. 15. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at Natchez Coffee Co. Jeansonne said the fundraiser is a popular one and often sells out. She urged those who want to attend to purchase tickets soon.

The Stewpot serves approximately 410 to 415 plates a day. Some people in need of a meal come into the Stewpot building to dine or a volunteer will deliver the food to the person’s home, Davis said.

Although the Stewpot doesn’t have enough donations to last the entire year, Davis said she is certain the Stewpot will continue to serve locals, like BettyRuth Sheeran, throughout 2015.

“If it wasn’t for them, most days I wouldn’t have anything to eat,” Sheeran said.

Donations to the Stewpot, located at 69 E. Franklin St., Natchez, can be made Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.