Food bank donations help fight hunger in South Mississippi

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A smiling face and a hot meal seem like simple necessities, but they're necessities that many South Mississippians go without. Food pantry and soup kitchen volunteers are working to change that.

"It's like one big happy family here. And I get a good feeling out of it because I was, unfortunate. But I come up learning the hard way to sometimes give instead of take. And we all about giving," said Feed My Sheep soup kitchen supervisor Mike Jones.

Feed My Sheep will feed up to 300 people in house each day, and provide to-go plates for another 250.  With fall in the air, the kitchen is already planning for the demands of winter by collecting food and clothes.  For that, it turns to donors like Twelve Baskets Food Bank which supplies food to pantries and soup kitchens all over South Mississippi.

"It's very crucial for us to have these pantries where they are in place, and make sure that the need is being met," said Twelve Baskets Food Bank Director Jennifer Keegan.

Twelve Baskets just got a needed boost from one of its supporters also.  Tyson Foods, along with singer Neil Young, donated more than 35,000 pounds of frozen chicken to the food bank.  Young helped by donating proceeds from a recent concert series.

Both donations were to aid gulf states affected by the oil spill.

Donations, like the one from Tyson Foods, help Twelve Baskets keep organizations like Feed My Sheep stocked.  However, there are other items like clothing that these charities have to find elsewhere.

"The more the better they say. Whatever they bring us, we'll take it. We don't turn down nothing," said Jones.

Whether its food or clothing, when it comes to donating to these charities, Jones has one piece of advice: let it come from the heart.

In the wake of the economy and oil spill, Feed My Sheep expects to feed nearly 120,000 people this year, a 30 percent increase over last year.

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