House bill could aid food pantries across Mississippi

Court documents detail the struggles of fishery and tourism businesses on the Coast, from seafood and live bait businesses to hotels.
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 2:16 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The cupboard isn’t bare at the Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, but there’s a lot of space on the shelves where food should be.

“Our cost of living has gone up, our groceries have gone up,” said James Pennington, executive director at Back Bay Mission. “Much of the food we purchase comes out of our own resources. Right now, our food pantry manager is out buying groceries. Food banks, and ours in particular, are seeing an increase in the number of individuals accessing the food bank, especially families.”

With that in mind, state lawmakers have drafted a bill that, if enacted, would set up grant funding programs for food pantries all over the state through the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

“This is definitely something we need,” Pennington added. “In fact, there’s supposed to be a million dollars in funding. I think there will be more because so many people are accessing food pantries. And, USDA isn’t providing as much food, so were actually seeing some of our sources diminish,” Pennington added.

We’re told in the last year, there’s been more than a 70% increase in those using food pantries -- some of it due to inflation, while larger amounts of food stamp funding seen during COVID have been depleted.

“I actually discovered this bill and have already written notes to our legislators asking them to support it, because people in Mississippi need assistance,” said Pennington.

The bill (HB 15) is in the early stages of legislation.

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