8th Annual Memphis Interfaith Dinner

In Memphis, specifically, why are there so many hungry people? Is it money? Logisitcs? Access? – Where is the biggest need from this room? Money or time?

Memphis has a high poverty rate, due to a number of factors including the lack of major employers with good paying jobs, low education levels, declines in farming and agriculture businesses (the industry Memphis was built on) and the slow rate of economic recovery. Poverty and hunger go hand in hand.

Access/Logistics is also a problem because there are many areas of the city that are recognized as “food deserts,” meaning residents do not have easy, consistent access to full-service grocery stores that offer a variety of nutritious food. This lack of access forces people to find food where they can, often at convenience stores or fast-food restaurants in the neighborhoods.

Why is Memphis the most hungry city in USA?? & what can be done on a base level to change that other than giving food?

The rate of food insecurity and hunger in the Memphis metropolitan area has consistently been in the 22% – 26% range for the last several years, which is among the highest rates in the country. The reasons mentioned above explain this rating.

On a base level, the answer is economic: jobs, job training, education. Mid-South Food Bank’s food distribution is primarily for getting people through a life crisis of short duration. Situations such as job loss, a significant illness or changes in family makeup can cause food emergencies. People receive food from our partner agencies for an average of three to six months before their situation changes and they can get back on their feet.

Where does hunger rank statewide and compared to other surrounding states MS, AR, is Memphis effectively moving the needle?

According to the most recent Map the Meal Gap information from Feeding America, food insecurity in Shelby County went from 20.1% in of the population in 2012 to 19.9% in 2013. A small drop, but it reflects approximately 10,000 people who are no longer struggling with food insecurity and hunger.

What is the one political change in our community that would result in the greatest improvement to relieve / end hunger in Memphis / Shelby County ?

The single most effective weapon against hunger and food insecurity is SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as Food Stamps). SNAP benefits are part of the national Farm Bill and for the last several years, SNAP has been under attack. Last November, benefits that had been raised during the worst of the economic crisis were not extended, affecting millions of people’s ability to receive the food they need for themselves and their families. There are other legislative threats to SNAP and other government feeding programs. To stay informed, go to www.hungeractioncenter.org and Join to receive updates. Another resource is the Food Resource and Action Center www.frac.org

How is it that the U.S. Congress hasn’t provided adequate food for the young and elderly? –Larry Pivnick

See above re: SNAP

How much food is wanted per day ? How we can save that ?

In FY 2013-2014, Mid-South Food Bank distributed 15.6 million pounds of food. In order to meet the needs of every food insecure person in our 31-county service area, we should distribute approximately twice that amount.

In such a large operation, are you able to feed people with dietary restrictions?

Mid-South Food Bank works with people with dietary restrictions to the best of our ability by providing a wide variety of nutritious food. That is why we do not rely only on donated food, but also purchase food so that we can maintain that variety.

How do you help train organizations / congregations to alleviate hunger through partnerships? – Nadeem

The staff at Mid-South Food Bank is available to any group that wants to get involved in the fight against hunger and food insecurity in our community. Go to our website, www.midsouthfoodbank.org and click on Take Action to learn about how to hold a food and funds drive, opening a pantry or other feeding program and more. Contact us at 901-527-0841 or info@nullmidsouthfoodbank.org.