September is Hunger Action Month, traditionally a month when people stand together with Feeding America to fight hunger. But the year 2020 has been anything but traditional, as families continue to suffer the economic and emotional effects of COVID-19. Mississippi started the pandemic facing a food insecurity crisis. Since the epidemic, taking action to help hungry families has been a top priority for the Mississippi Food Network (MFN), and its nearly 400 food pantries across the state.
Mississippi is known to be the most giving state. When the going gets tough, our communities, including our dairy farmers, step up to help. As a registered dietitian and board member for Mississippi Food Network, my heart skips a beat when I hear that MFN has distributed over 120,000 gallons of milk through its food banks and partners since March of 2020. Milk matters during times of economic concern. For approximately 25 cents per cup, milk offers a nutritional bargain at an affordable price that you can’t pass up. Not to mention, milk is the top food source for calcium, potassium and vitamin D, which are three of the four “nutrients of public health concern,” according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Families have enough to be concerned about. Getting milk for their families shouldn’t be one of them.
Countless families are getting help at a food bank for the first time due to coronavirus. It is a strange and scary time. Nothing is normal, especially for families facing hunger. To families in need, a gallon of milk is a gallon of hope. Fluid milk in the refrigerator means that there can be cereal for breakfast, cookies can get dunked, and families can enjoy their favorites like macaroni and cheese. Even if it’s just for a night, when there is plenty of fresh milk to pass around, dinner can be as it once was.
Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at www.RebeccaTurnerNutrition.com