BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The state of Mississippi is on its share of blacklists, from obesity rankings to teen pregnancies. Mississippi also has the highest rate when it comes to poverty. According to the Public Policy Center of Mississippi, one in every five Mississippi families doesn't have enough money to feed its children healthy meals.
Loaves and Fishes has been doing its part to help the hungry in South Mississippi. But it's facing some challenges. Now leaders say they need help from people across the coast to fight poverty.
James Dickey has lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for more than 35 years. Dickey says the last decade has been a struggle.
"A lot of people don't have a place to stay. They are sleeping under bridges and places," says Dickey.
Dickey knows what it's like to work. He also knows firsthand about the working poor. And he says if you live in Mississippi, help is hard to come by.
"A guy asked me the other day, 'do you know where I can get a place to stay?' I told them in Mississippi, you ain't going to get nothing because they don't have any homeless shelters. So that means he has to sleep on the street," said Dickey.
10 years ago, Dickey found Loaves and Fishes. Now he counts on the feedings at the soup kitchen at least once a week. Now, with the current state of the economy, the organization is struggling.
"They have enough in their budget barely to run Monday through Friday," said Darin Hymel, the sous chef with the IP Casino Resort and Spa.
The IP made the commitment a year ago to feed at the kitchen once a month.
"We will be here as long as it takes," said Hymel.
Hymel says donations are slacking off because of rising food costs and gas prices but he understands that problems won't feed the needy.
"Just because business turns down a little bit, it doesn't mean that you stop doing the right thing," said Hymel.
Now leaders at Loaves and Fishes hope that people of South Mississippi will do what it takes to help combat poverty, so one day poverty will starve to death.
At 19.3 percent, Mississippi has the highest poverty rating in the country just ahead of Louisiana.