Season of Wishes: Stewpot serves people in need
By HUNTER CLOUD
The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — On Christmas Day in 1984 Jefferson Street United Methodist Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, St. Marys Catholic Church and the Natchez-Adams County Council on Aging started a free meal service to help Natchezians.
Since then the Natchez Stewpot has grown from serving 25 meals on that first day to serving approximately 250 meals a day during COVID-19.
The Natchez Stewpot operates solely on donations and help from two staff members and many volunteers. Stewpot halted dine-in service in April because of COVID-19 but has continued to serve people at the door, said Amanda Jeansonne, Stewpot’s director.
Hours for dine-in are 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sundays. Meals are served every single day of the year, Jeansonne said, unless there is a bad storm.
Jeansonne said two-thirds of the 250 daily meals are delivered to people who are shut-ins.
Meal delivery goes out on three different routes, and Jeansonne said it is important to connect with people on those routes.
“You have to eat every day,” Jeansonne said. “People who don’t have transportation can count on Natchez Transit but it is a big effort to do that. When we deliver, we deliver lunch and dinner. We get to know the people we are delivering to and build a nice relationship.”
Stewpot’s biggest need is for monetary donations to pay two employees, utilities and maintenance of the building, Jeansonne said. On Sundays churches prepare the meals, but Monday through Saturday two employees cook and serve meals six days a week.
Volunteer drivers are needed for meal delivery, but there is a limit on people who can come in and help shelve food because of COVID-19 Jeansonne said. Storage at the Stewpot is full with donations due to community donation, Jeansonne said.
“I know it has been a hard year for everybody, but the generosity has been overwhelming,” Jeansonne said. “We have enough food for right now but we will need food again in August, September and October. The food that comes in at Thanksgiving and Christmas lasts us about six to seven months.”
People who would like to volunteer can call 601-442-9413 or email Amanda Jeansonne at email@example.com. Food donations may be dropped off at the Stewpot at 69 E Franklin St. from the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Checks may be made to the Natchez Stewpot and sent to P.O. Box 298 Natchez, MS 39121.