Friendly City Gardens works to fight food insecurity

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – reports that 44 million people in the United States are food insecure.

Every community from rural Mississippi to urban New York faces these challenges.

Friendly City Gardens is working with the largest soup kitchen in Northeast Mississippi.

In 2023, Loaves and Fishes served around 84,000 people; with this garden, they hope to make an even bigger impact.

Tucked away in a corner of Columbus’s Southside is a green oasis in what could be considered a food desert.

The cultivators of Friendly City Gardens have a mission: to fight food insecurity in Lowndes County.

Pastor of Hope Community Church in Columbus Bo Jeffares says food insecurity pulls at his heartstrings.

“When was the last time you skipped a meal? If you start missing a meal, you’ll know because your body is saying ‘You’re hungry.’ There are people that are hungry,” Jeffares said. “It’s hard to think about anything else when you’re hungry, and that is a number one basic need. I just think people ought to consider that. Most of us, we’re a long way from our last meal and we don’t know what that’s like, but there are plenty of people that deal with that every day.”

Jeffares uses this inspiration at Friendly City Gardens, and this is not your average community garden.

50% of the produce will go to the Seasons of Columbus retirement home, and 50% will go to Loaves and Fishes a local feeding ministry.

“A bunch of churches volunteer once a month to provide lunch to 250-350 people a day at their campus at loaves and fishes,” Jeffares said. “The church provides the meal, they come in, pack it, and dispense it. These gardens are meant to supplement that.”

This garden provides healthy, sustainable options.

“This is the best stuff you can eat with vitamins and nutrients and stuff that’s really good for you,” Jeffares said. “I mean we love our phones and stuff but the most important part of your phone is your battery, if it’s charged or not, cause it can’t do any of its capacity if it doesn’t have power. Food is our power. and we ought to see it as medicine. ”

Jeffares hopes this is just a start.

The long-term goal is a network of gardens across the region to fight food insecurity.

“We can’t find anything wrong with this whole idea of just trying to grow food for people,” Jeffares said.

You can look for opportunities to volunteer on the Friendly City Gardens Facebook page.

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