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The Ally: Mar 2021 – Crisis Collaboration: Good Samaritan Center and Extra Table

L-R: Kathy Clem, Martha Allen and and Karla Edwards representing Good Sam, Extra Table and The MS Alliance

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.

Kathy Clem
Good Samaritan Center

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