Posted on Apr 30, 2019

Our thanks to Extra Table Exec. Dir. Martha Allen for providing our program last Tuesday!
L-R: Colby Sappington, Martha Allen, Steven Utroska, and Mallory Donald.
President Steven Utroska presided over today’s meeting. Steve Ramp gave today’s invocation Mallory Donald led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Thanks to Mike McPhail and Steven Utroska who served as our greeters today.
Mike McPhail filled in for Brandon Hodges and thanked those who helped with today’s meeting and introduced our guests. Michaela Harper has Rebekah Harrington as her guest. Eric Rodgers has JoAnn Fry as his guest and Bob Riley has Mike Darby as his guest.
Steven thanked reminded members that the April 30th meeting will be canceled, as will all the other 5th Tuesday meetings for the remainder of this year. He also encouraged members, especially new members, to sign up for the Meals on Wheels program. Tracie Fowler with the United Way of Southeast Mississippi has a project grant of $1,000 available. Steven is asking the Program Committee to investigate this grant opportunity. All the projects funded by the United Way need to be completed during the week of June 21. The primary purpose of the grant is to increase volunteerism in our community.
Mallory Donald then introduced our guest speaker, Martha Allen, Extra Table Executive Director. She has been in that position since March of 2018. Martha relocated to Hattiesburg from the Clarksdale area.
The Extra Table is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year. The program was started by local chef Robert St. John. The organization’s mission is to bring healthy food to hungry Mississippians. Martha says that one-fifth of our state’s population does not know where their next meal will come from. Martha says that represents 700,000 hungry Mississippians.
Our state’s population leads the nation in hunger and is the most obese state in the union. She says that limited food resources generate unhealthy eating habits. Children affected by hunger in our state will not develop as they should, creating an economic growth problem in the future.
Of all the money raised for food by Extra Table buys food for the hungry. They do conduct other fundraising efforts to help cover their administrative costs which are less than $200,000. Through a buying agreement with Sisco, the group can buy about $2.50 worth of healthy food for every dollar generated. They purchased and delivered 130 tons of healthy food to food pantries and soup kitchens across the state in 2017.
Extra Table is expanding into our state’s universities and community colleges. Martha says there is a real problem with collegiate hunger in our state. Many of the hungry students who graduated from high school may not have adequate resources to buy a food plan. The USM Eagle’s Nest is the food pantry on that campus. Martha says the Eagle’s Nest is a premier food pantry and one that she uses as an example of the way one should be managed.
Future plans for Extra Table include expansion outside of our state lines. They will also create a volunteerism program in June or July of this year to offer people who want to get involved.
If you want to learn more about Extra Table, visit their website at Martha encourages sustaining financial contributions throughout the year which helps the organization better plan for identified needs. She says $5 each month will make a big difference in the lives of Mississippians who suffer from hunger.
Steven thanked our speaker and then adjourned the meeting with our motto, “Service Above Self.”