Imam Sharif,

Marcia Wells’ responses from the Food Bank’s perspective are excellent and cover the overall hunger issues very well. So I will answer the questions from the perspective of senior hunger, which is what MIFA deals with primarily. MIFA’s responses should be understood in conjunction with those from the Food Bank.

I will answer all the questions that are within MIFA’s realm of expertise.

Thanks for making this information available to so many people!


Linda F. Marks
Inter-Faith Relations Officer
MIFA (Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association)
(901) 529-4560, 910 Vance Ave., 38126

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?

Of the 97,380 seniors in Shelby County at the time of the U.S. Census of 2010, nearly 30% live alone and are therefore at greater risk for depression, malnutrition, and hunger. That number is expected to grow 18% by 2015.

A report released earlier this year by the Meals on Wheels Research Foundation ranked Tennessee fifth in the nation in terms of the threat of senior hunger; 17.5% of our senior population is at risk. Several demographic components also place Memphis’ population at risk: hunger is most prevalent in the South, in urban areas, and in African-American households. The Aging Commission of the Mid-South has a full waiting list of more than 2,000 individuals, and MIFA staff receive seven to 10 service requests per day that cannot be fulfilled. These facts underscore the continued need for our programs.

For seniors, our Meals on Wheels program is already in place as an efficient and effective resource to seniors who deal with food insecurity. The system runs well but could serve more seniors in need if more funding were available. Since government funding is more and more problematic, MIFA needs and seeks increased funding from private donors.


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

In dealing with the overall hunger problem, it is essential to address the root causes and to provide assistance in a way which prepares and empowers people to meet their own needs. But for seniors, their situations are not likely to change. Nutritious food not only sustains them, but decreases the incidence of conditions which result in frequent hospitalizations and nursing home placement. For this reason, the investment in such programs as Meals on Wheels results in significant savings to taxpayers.

In Fiscal Year 2013, the established local economic impact of MIFA Meals on Wheels, based on avoided nursing home and rehabilitation expenses, was $3,466,439.


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

In a 2013 study of senior hunger nationwide. Arkansas ranked #1, with 24.23% of the senior population experiencing food insecurity. Mississippi ranked #2, with 20.49%, and Tennessee ranked #5, with 17.5%.

MIFA is currently increasing the numbers of seniors who receive significant nutrition assistance in two ways:

  • a shift in 2013 from serving Meals on Wheels in 4 counties to serving Shelby County alone, in order to increase the number of Shelby County seniors who can receive Meals on Wheels; and
  • a new program, the Senior Nutrition Collaborative, in partnership with the Mid-South Food Bank, which delivers boxes of shelf-stable food items to 35 clients in the 38109 ZIP code area. Each box contains 14 meals, plus snacks, to last 7 days.


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

All of MIFA’s Meals on Wheels are planned by a registered dietitian to provide 1/3 of the daily minimum requirements and to be appropriate for clients with heart conditions and diabetes. In addition, Kosher meals are available through our partnership with Holy Cow Now.


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

MIFA provides training regularly for potential Meals on Wheels volunteers. Starting in April of this year, Kingsway Christian Church in Germantown began a partnership with MIFA to provide Meals on Wheels to clients in the Germantown area, which had not previously been served. In addition to preparing the meals and delivering them to the church, MIFA has conducted two trainings there for the Kingsway volunteers.