Closing the Hunger Gap at School

Getting up every day and enjoying your job is a gift in itself. When the work you love collides with helping those in need, it makes for a blessed workday.

Working on behalf of dairy farm families to promote their nutritious products has always been a pleasure, but watching the dairy industry advocate for families in need by supporting local food banks takes job satisfaction to a whole new level.

The Mississippi Food Network (MFN) is the only Feeding America food bank in Mississippi and feeds more than 150,000 every month. Knowing there are food-insecure residents who slip through the cracks of traditional food distribution, MFN constantly looks for innovative ways to reach those in need. The School Pantry Program helps alleviate child hunger through the delivery of food to children and their families at school.

School-based pantries make food assistance easily accessible to low-income students and their families. School administration works with the providing food bank to select eligible participants and set distribution schedules. School pantries may have a permanent set up within a school or operate through a mobile distribution network that brings food to a school campus. Regardless of the method, the mission remains the same: keep children well nourished.

As a board member of MFN, I am proud the organization has promoted this concept at four Mississippi schools so far. MFN has chosen to offer mobile school pantries where they drop off food boxes on the day of services. This allows families to receive food and other enriching resources like food preparation demos, health screenings, healthy dairy recipes and educational materials.

It was a good day at the office when I got to attend Brown Elementary School in Jackson, Miss. and be a part of the ribbon cutting for the new school pantry. Parents received needed health screenings, children learned about MyPlate, and most importantly, everyone went home knowing dinner would be on the table.

Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Rebecca Turner