North Mississippi Medical Center food pantry for cancer patients seeing need increase as food prices rise

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Food insecurity is one of the many hardships that cancer patients face. But it’s one that North Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Care doesn’t want its patients to face on their own.

“People come in here and they confide in us and tell us, ‘Hey, I don’t know if I have enough food to last till the end of the week,'” says oncology social worker Lauren Thompson.

The Hope Food Pantry has provided food for cancer patients since 2019.

“A cancer diagnosis is expensive and it brings about a change in financial status,” says Jamie Grissom, another oncology social worker for NMMC Cancer Center. “So someone who may have been financially sound a week ago can find themselves needing assistance and sometimes that falls under needing food in the house.”

Thompson helped create the food pantry program after seeing how many patients she would refer to area food pantries on a regular basis.

“I feel like the need is going up drastically for patients needing food with the increase in prices and everything else,” she says.

The top three items that they always need are shelf-stable milk, crackers and peanut butter. Thompson says the shelf-stable milk is the item they usually run out of first.

“We need that because people use that in the recipes to make some of the boxed dinners, they’ll use that with cereals,” she says.

And crackers and peanut butter meet many of their patients’ needs.

“Especially cancer patients being sick, that’s something that’s basic, it settles their stomach and everybody seems to want that,” Thompson says.

They also have a high demand for canned goods like soup, vegetables, and SPAM.

“We try to keep healthy foods in stock for our patients and we try to keep cereals and snacks for the younger kids that may be in the home,” says Grissom.

And just as many of their patients rely on them for food, the pantry itself relies on donations.

“I have had people cry when they get the food because they’re so appreciative of it and just seeing these people out in public, you don’t know who needs what in their life,” Thompson says. “At the end of the day, you made a difference by what you did and what you donated to help the people in our community.”

Those interested in making a donation can call 662-377-2269. To find out more about how to make a monetary donation or where to drop off food, click here. 

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