HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the hunger crisis keeps growing.
This week, we’re highlighting a local non-profit that’s making sure no one in Mississippi goes hungry.
Even amid this pandemic, Extra Table, a nonprofit established by restaurateur Robert St. John, continues to provide meals to thousands of families in need.
“It’s amazing to see the growth that Extra Table experienced over the last year,” Martha Allen, Executive Director of Extra Table said. “It was such a difficult year in COVID, but we grew from distributing almost 300,000 pounds to almost 5.7 million pounds of food.”
Allen says the need for food increased in the last year, which caused the non-profit to grow drastically.
“From 34 food pantries and soup kitchens throughout Mississippi to 62 food pantries and soup kitchens, and those 62 pantries received free healthy food from Extra Table every month,” Allen said.
In 2021, the focus to feeding the hungry continues. This month, Extra Table is delivering 36,000 meals through a new partnership with shrimpers along Mississippi’s coast.
“We distributed about 4,000 pounds of fresh shrimp to seven food pantries and soup kitchen partners here in the Pine Belt that cover four counties of hungry Mississippians,” Allen said.
Allen says food pantries have seen a 30-50 percent increase since COVID-19.
“We’re still seeing really elevated numbers and new faces at our food pantries throughout the state,” Allen said.
She says they’re actively planning their year and ready to continue growing and providing healthy food.
“We’ve got two outdoor activities; we’ve got a Valentine’s event coming up and we’re just really excited to continue,” Allen said.
She thanks all their partners and volunteers for their support.
“It’s not just Extra Table thanking you, it’s the mother that couldn’t feed her child,” Allen said. “It’s the widow that just didn’t have enough social security to make it to the end of the month you know. The stories are real and they’re all too familiar and they’re from every level in our communities. People are suffering, and like I said, food offers hope, and no one should have to go hungry. Food is a basic human right.”
Allen says Extra Table distributed 4.7 million pounds of milk last year. To learn more about Extra Table, click here.