GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - While some people may take a meal for granted, many others, like Harrison County resident Mildred Ladner, struggle every day to put food on the table.
"It's really hard sometimes," Ladner said. "It gets depressing, but you just take it one day at a time."
Ladner was one of nearly 800 Harrison County residents that came out to the Isaiah Fredrick's Community Center on Wednesday in hopes of going home with a bag of groceries.
"When I get my disability check, it doesn't go very far," Ladner said. "By the time it comes this time of the month, everything in my pantry and my refrigerator runs real low."
Helping Hands Food Program, part of Hands on Mississippi, handed out bags with food for three meals to 400 Harrison County residents.
"It's a growing, I guess you could say, epidemic," Executive Director of Hands on Mississippi Holly Gibbs said. "It's something happening more and more. People are losing their full time jobs, and bosses are going to part time to cover salary wages and insurance differences. They're losing that extra pay they need to put food on the table, so that's what this program is designed to do. Help fill that gap."
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Mississippi has the second highest food insecurity rate in the country. More than 21 percent of residents in the state have trouble getting three meals a day. Nina Mae Hatcher said she became part of that statistic when her husband died.
"It's kind of hard, but I'm making it with the help of the Lord," Hatcher said.
Hatcher waited in line for nine hours to get a bag of groceries.
"This is a big help to me, and I appreciate it very much," Hatcher said.
"It's just a blessing from God that y'all have a heart of gold to come out and give things to people like us," Ladner said.