As the holiday season begins and we take time out of our busy lives to relax and reflect on what we’re thankful for, we must also remember and help those in need in our community. Several area groups spent this last week participating in Hunger & Homelessness Week. This annual event is an opportunity to start discussions and educate communities on poverty and had more than 700 groups across the country participate this year.
Locally, Mississippi United to End Homelessness (MUTEH), United Way of Northeast Mississippi, the Tupelo/Lee Hunger Coalition and the Mississippi Balance of State Continuum of Care met to discuss current problems and propose solutions.
As reported by Danny McArthur, Lee County has seen a decrease in food insecurity, with a 15.7% rate reported in 2018, but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the projected rate is expected to be around 20.8%, the highest number in recent years. For context, nationally, the food insecurity rate is above 20%.
And regarding homelessness, the number of homeless individuals has increased from 49 in January to around 60-65 currently. MUTEH has been able to help house over 30 individuals in Lee County and were able to utilize CARES Act funding to help a handful of those directly impacted by the coronavirus.
And there were other positives highlighted during Tuesday’s webinar. The Hunger Coalition discussed how food insecurity has been addressed during the pandemic, like the creation of mobile food pantries, which provides enough food for hundreds of families.
Even with everything we have been through this year, we continue to find ways to help one another and provide support to those who need it the most.
This holiday season, think about how you can help, whether it is through donations or volunteering. And we are thankful for the aforementioned groups for their continued work.