OUR OPINION: Physical need ID'd in role of charities

By NEMS Daily Journal

The end-of-year holiday seasons always provide a stage for highlighting special charitable and humanitarian needs in Northeast Mississippi and across the nation.
Often, the nationwide needs become organically linked to particular issues in Northeast Mississippi because of economic slowdowns, unemployment and, on occasion, natural disasters with widespread impact.
The United Way of Northeast Mississippi, in a bright spot, is expected to today announce success in its 2011-2012 campaign helping support scores of agencies, but even with the generous response for United Way, some needs are unmet.
Hunger is an important issue in Mississippi, including in our region, and many of the private-sector food pantries and other providers report they are stretched to feed those who seek assistance.
In late November, The Wall Street Journal reported that federal funding cuts to pay for commodities used in many hunger programs is being reduced. The supply offered by the government has dipped 45 percent in the past year, the WSJ reported.
Government reductions place greater pressure on fully private-sector food banks and pantries relying solely on charity and philanthropy – individual and corporate.
Vicki Escarra, CEO of Feeding America,, suggested to the WSJ, “I think there are millions of donors that don’t yet understand the issue or prevalence of hunger in America. I don’t think we, as a group, have done a good job communicating that everyone knows someone that’s struggling with hunger; it’s 1 in 6. We need to broaden our net of influence and the donors that we are bringing into hunger-relief organizations.”
The AARP’s findings in a report published in September showed that 13.79 percent of Mississippians ages 50-59 face “food insecurity” – a fact directly linked to demographics: poverty, under-education, unemployment and factors long associated to racial inequities.
Other conditions aligned with food “insecurity” range from abject poverty, emotional distress, mental illness, and infirmity to outright neglect.
The University of Kentucky research pinpointed facts specially applicable to rural areas
The 160-plus-page scholarly, analytical report from which AARP drew its conclusions was produced by researchers at the University of Kentucky and pinpointed information applicable to rural regions.
AARP found that most food-insecure counties are more likely to be located in rural areas than in metropolitan areas.
Mississippians are among the most generous Americans, so it is not unreasonable to believe that year-end generosity can make a significant impact.
The Salvation Army in Tupelo, which serves food needs year round trough its ministry, is among agencies in need of funds.
Consider the need in a hopeful season.

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