Storehouse pantry fights food insecurity

Published 11:11 am Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Charles Calhoun, president of the Storehouse Food Pantry, stands behind prepared meals to serve to the community for people in need.

Charles Calhoun, president of the Storehouse Food Pantry, stands behind prepared meals to serve to the community for people in need.

In Warren County, one out of five people do not know where their next meal is going to come from. Food insecurity is a real epidemic, which deals with people having access to healthy sustainable food and, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mississippi is ranked the most food insecure state.

“At some time during the year, people are going to need some help because they don’t know where their next meal is going to come from,” Charles Calhoun, president of Storehouse Food Pantry said. “The national average is right at 16 percent. Mississippi is at 22.3 and Warren County is at 22.6 percent. So that’s one out of five — or 12,000 people — in Warren County who face this problem.”

It is important for services like food kitchens and food pantries to be staples in the communities they serve to help eliminate or contain this problem.

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The Storehouse Community Food Pantry has been serving Vicksburg for about 13 years and was the idea of Barbara Tolliver and the Rev. Bill and Diane Livingston.

The mission is to obtain food and support from sources, both public and private, to distribute to individuals and families needing temporary assistance. The name for the pantry comes from scripture: Malachi 3:10.

“‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’”

Last fiscal year, the food pantry provided assistance to an estimated 4,300 people.

They give enough food for three days — three meals a day — measuring out to nine meals.

“That comes to right at 40,000 meals coming out of this place,” Calhoun said.

The pantry bundles food based on feeding sizes from a single person to a family of three.

Freezers are filled with chicken nuggets and hot dogs, which children seem to enjoy. Shelves are stocked with canned green vegetables.

Calhoun said Tolliver and the Livingstons were seeing a constant knock at the door with people who needed a break.

Usually, those people just had lost their job, were low-income residents who are barely getting by, or older people living on a fixed income.

“Some have this humongous light bill or utility bill or their car breaks down and they have to make decisions whether or not they’re going to pay that bill or eat,” Calhoun said.

To apply for assistance with Storehouse, a person needs an agency or a church referral, however walk-ins are welcomed.

The person must bring picture identification, their Social Security card, as well as all the members of the household.

Services are provided to a person no more than three times per year and must have a month between visits.

The pantry is open from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, and Wednesdays and 5 to 6 p.m. Thursdays.

Calhoun remembers during last year’s Egg Bowl in Oxford, the sheriffs department found a family living on a porch of a run down abandoned building.

They were able to find the family a place to stay but needed food. He left the game to assist the family with food.

“That’s the type of people we’re serving,” Calhoun said.