(Jackson, MS) – The City of Jackson has recently been awarded a grant from the National League of Cities – CHAMPS: Cities Combating Hunger Through Afterschool and Summer Meals Programs to address hunger insecurities. The grant, which totals $120,000.00, will help implement a city-wide awareness campaign and task force to directly combat hunger issues across our city. The ultimate goal is to increase the number of programs providing afterschool and summer feedings by 10% at the end of the 18-month grant period.
“The Departments of Human and Cultural Services and Parks and Recreation specifically took this on because we work directly with youth who are often at a higher risk of experiencing food insecurities,” said Dr. Adrienne Dorsey-Kidd, Director of Human and Cultural Services. The Director of Parks and Recreation, Ison Harris further added, “We look to overcome the challenges which often stigmatize those in need of hunger services the most: embarrassment in asking for help, lack of trust in governmental programs, lack of accessibility to resources, overcoming the pride that prevents some families for asking for this assistance.”
The City will launch its efforts through the Jackson Meals Matter Campaign which will center on increasing awareness of the dire need to address local hunger insecurities. With a school system that represents more than 80 percent of school-aged children in the capital city, the campaign’s ultimate goal is to bring awareness to the vital role feeding programs play in the lives of the state’s most vulnerable asset- youth.
The Jackson Meals Matter Task Force will further continue the campaign’s objectives through the gathering of community stakeholders and branding the need for anti-hunger efforts across Jackson. The Mayor’s Office, in collaboration with the Department of Human and Cultural Services and Parks and Recreation, will lead and implement this necessary undertaking.
“The Jackson Meals Matter Campaign will rely heavily on data from the Department of Human Services, Jackson Public Schools, and the Hinds County Head Start Services programs to determine which populations and communities are experiencing hunger and the task force will be instrumental in connecting families with SNAP and WIC services,” said Harris.
According to the 2010 census, 36.5% of Jackson residents live below the poverty threshold.
Additionally, the census reveals that 50,873 out of 165,699 live well below the poverty line, which is higher than the national average. In Mississippi, approximately, 600,840 individuals, of
whom 176, 580 are children, are grappling to overcome hunger. The statistics demonstrate that one out of four children suffers from hunger.
The City of Jackson sees this grant award as a clear opportunity to provide programs that will meet the critical hunger needs of our citizens.