MEMPHIS, Tenn. — According to Feeding America, more than 34 million Americans are facing food insecurity, and unfortunately, Memphis has more than its share. From inflation to the pandemic, many went to food banks in their time of need.
“It has changed dramatically,” said Chad Finley, Mid-South Food Bank Gift Operations Manager.
The number of those hungry in the Memphis area has grown exponentially over the past few years, according to the Mid-South Food Bank.
“We reach 350,000 people over 31 counties, and that’s North Mississippi, West Tennessee, and one county in Arkansas. We’re seeing that number increasing, so there are more people that are food insecure,” said Finley.
For a lot of people, inflation is the latest hurdle in digging into their wallets for something as basic as food. In Shelby County alone, the price of a single meal has jumped around 12% from 2017 to 2020, according to Feeding America. Throughout the Mid-South Food Bank service area, one in five people are expected to experience food insecurity.
“Pre-COVID, we were doing two to four million pounds of food in a whole year and now, it’s averaging four to eight million every month. That’s about 48 to 72 million pounds per year,” said Finley.
However, as the holidays approach, Finley said Mid-Southerners can often be counted on to step up and help.
“Right now through Christmas is when we kind of pick up, and we’re getting donations, either monetary, or people bringing in food,” said Finley.
The food bank is trying to capitalize on the generosity by getting area churches involved in its new Feeding 5,000 Food Drive. The goal is to help provide an additional 5,000 people with food on top of the 350,000 the bank already supports. The drive runs through January 6.
To get involved, churches can sign up over the phone at 901-373-0412, online at midsouthfoodbank.com, or through firstname.lastname@example.org
“Whatever church has the most poundage of food wins the competition. Please come out, get involved and bring that food to us and we’ll take care of it,” said Finley.