HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - With the summer months upon us, kids are out of school and more and more people are finding themselves in need of food pantry services.
The Edwards Street Fellowship Food Pantry in the Hub City is one of them.
"It is tougher on the feeding agencies during the summer," said Edwards Street Fellowship Food Pantry Executive Director Ann McCullen. "Now I'll be honest, summer's tough, children are out of school and so not only are they home all day, but they are no longer getting that free breakfast or free lunch that they can get through their school system."
The pantry serves seven counties and the greater Hattiesburg area, and between 1,100 and 1,200 households every month.
"To put that in perspective, we're just through the first five months, January through May, we distributed over 92 tons of food," McCullen said.
A focus of the pantry is serving something nutritious to those in need.
It's super important to us that the food that we give out is nutritious," McCullen said. "When you are truly food insecure, what you need are the basics."
"What we are always in need of are can vegetables, fruits, soups, dried beans, different kind of meats you know canned meats, or pouches of tuna, things like that…so just the basics, the more nutritious the better," she said.
One way the pantry is able to offer something a little extra is their community garden.
"One thing that's unique about Edwards Street, we do have community gardens on our grounds…and we have wonderful volunteers who come in six or seven days a week to tend to those gardens," McCullen said.
"It's good work…I call it good hard work, because we know this food is going to go to people who need it," said volunteer Cliff Browne.
The fruits and vegetables from the garden give people a taste of fresh produce.
"You know they get can stuff and all that…but this is all fresh," Browne said.
"Right now, we are harvesting okra, and squash…since blueberry season began in mid-May…volunteers have already picked over 400 pounds of blueberries on our property, we're now bringing in figs, and we look forward to a plentiful harvest season for this summer," McCullen said. "That is the best nutrition that we can give people, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables."
"We are thankful for every gift that comes in, every food drive, every donation, but it all goes out the door pretty quickly," she said.
Locations that summer meals can be found for children and teens 18 and younger are at multiple locations throughout the nation when school is out of session.
You can text FOOD to 877-877 to receive information on where to receive food in your area.