Need for holiday meals on the rise - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Need for holiday meals on the rise

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The stove fires are burning and the beans are boiling as commercial kitchens across the state prepare for a Thanksgiving meal that's becoming more important than ever.

"We have actually seen an increase of 42 percent of people coming in for food this fall," said Salvation Army Captain Ken Chapman.

One of those kitchens is at the Salvation Army in Jackson where Captain Chapman expects to serve nearly a thousand people.

"It's been a huge increase all of a sudden," Chapman said.

That increase is stretching across the state.

With Mississippi's unemployment rate just above 10 percent and an economy that's still lagging, more folks are reaching out for help and in this case a holiday meal that would otherwise not come if not for donations and lots of volunteers, which in some places just aren't as plentiful.

"The rest of the state is struggling, they really are struggling, particularly up in the Delta they're having a difficult time with that, with that donations coming in, there's a lot of poverty there," Chapman said.

Across town, Stewpot Ministries is gearing up to set the table as well.

"People have up's and downs in their lives," said Reverend Frank Spencer, Executive Director of Stewpot Ministries .

Rev. Spencer says there's already a 15 percent increase for the ministry's meals and food pantry.

"There are more demands for our services and there's also people that have never requested assistance," Spencer said.

With more people now leaning on social service agencies, it's putting a strain on resources, making donations a vital lifeline, extending to folks who never thought they would need it.

"This economy is hitting people that have never been hit in socioeconomic levels before," Chapman said.

That's why folks like Capt. Chapman and Rev. Spencer will keep serving up turkey and sweet potatoes, with a side of hope and comfort.

"It's a difficult thing to get through but with God's help we're making it," Chapman said.

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