At the beginning of March 2020, Martha Allen and I met once at an Extra Table fundraiser and talked on the phone a couple of times about what type of healthy shelf-stable products a soup kitchen could use in its daily operation. Little did we know that in less than four weeks, we would be talking daily, seeing each other almost weekly, and launching a huge endeavor called HUB for the HUNGRY. That collaboration with for-profit businesses and nonprofit groups would salvage over 1 million pounds of food over the next year during a raging pandemic.
Martha with Extra Table, based in Hattiesburg, raises money to procure food for food pantries and soup kitchens in over 58 counties throughout Mississippi. I work with Good Samaritan Center based in the Jackson area, have multiple food pantries and food programs, and the only soup kitchen in Jones County.
When the pandemic lockdown occurred, we both realized there would be food headed for schools and restaurants that would have no place to go. We quickly started receiving calls from food distributors, truckers, farmers, and casinos. These businesses had truckloads of food they wanted to donate, but much of it was perishable and needed to be distributed quickly.
Martha knew folks in the food business, had soup kitchens and food pantries throughout the state that Extra Table was already helping, and could organize volunteer efforts quickly. Good Sam had a large facility in Jackson, a cadre of amazing staff members who were initially laid off but promptly brought back with the help of Central MS Planning and Development internship funds. Additional collaborations with Merchants Food Service and KLLM Trucking allowed for in-kind rental of freezer and refrigerated trucks to store received product until a quick distribution could be arranged, which helped our efforts immensely. In May, HUB for the Hungry was officially formed with additional partnerships with Sysco, Salad Days, and Two Dog Farms.
In the face of a huge food crisis created by Covid 19, Martha and I saw an opportunity and found new ways to be creative. As leaders in our fields, we also showed that we are better together, and the impact of our efforts improved with collaboration. We are now great friends and have a great partnership. HUB for the Hungry, led by Extra Table and Good Samaritan Center, will continue even after Covid because the need for food salvage on a grander scale will continue, and the groups assisting food-insecure families will continue to need our help.
Good Samaritan Center
A warm hello to our esteemed members and friends. This edition of The Ally seeks to celebrate the rich tapestry that February brings by recognizing Black History Month and other notable events that shape this dynamic month.
Family Biz Builder (FBB) is a transformative force in Tunica County, Mississippi. Since 2014, FBB, a compassionate 501(c)(3) nonprofit youth training and development organization, has been the guiding light for countless low-income, at-risk children aged 5-17 and their families across Tunica, Coahoma, and Desoto Counties.
Cultivating belonging and wholeness in the world
Friends and Partners,
I’m grateful to be connected to you in this season of celebration and acknowledgment of Black history.