• Jason Martin

Hunger coalition begins Break Box distribution

By Michaela Gibson Morris Daily Journal Jun 5, 2019

Upper Left: Tupelo Middle School volleyball player Kylon White, 11, carries a BreakBox to a car as part of the Tupelo/Lee County Hunger Coalition's program providing supplemental food. The coalition has 855 children registered in this year's program.

Upper Right: Along with 30-pound boxes of supplemental food, the Tupelo/Lee Hunger Coalition was able to add a box of cereal for each distribution.

Lower Left: Tupelo Middle School volleyball players Cameron Burkley, 13, left, and Gracie Henley, 13, begin unloading pallets during the BreakBox distribution on Tuesday.

Lower Right: The BreakBox includes vegetables, fruit, shelf-stable milk, snacks and ready to heat-entrees like macaroni and cheese to help reduce food insecurity during the summer for families that depend on the free and reduced school meal programs. About 20 percent of Lee County residents are considered food insecure.

Photo credit: Thomas Wells, Daily Journal

TUPELO • The summer is stacking up for the Tupelo/Lee County Hunger Coalition.

By the end of next week, the Coalition’s Break Box will have distributed 855 supplemental boxes for children who rely on free and reduced meals during the school year.

Loading boxes in the hot sun Tuesday afternoon, volunteers said they were happy to be a part of the coalition’s effort.

“Many of our members are school teachers; they see the need,” said Twyla Crayton, who was among the Delta Sigma Theta alumnae chapter sisters who volunteered at the Tuesday afternoon Break Box distribution in Tupelo.

The adult volunteers checked in families as they pulled up, and the members of the Tupelo Middle School volleyball and robotics teams helped load the supplemental food boxes.

The volleyball team came straight from practice with Coach Crystal Wilson, who also oversees the robotics team, but they weren’t complaining about hefting the 30-pound boxes.

“Not only do you need to bond as a team … you need to help others out,” said Tupelo Middle rising eighth-grader Carmen Berkley, who is a member of both the volleyball and robotics teams.

This week, volunteers distributed boxes in Saltillo, Tupelo and Baldwyn. Next week, volunteers will distribute in Mooreville, Shannon, Verona and Nettleton, said Jason Martin, coalition executive director.

This year, families have a scannable QR code for each child in the program, speeding the distribution process.

“It helps us with tracking,” Martin said. “It’s way better than the system we had last year.”

The coalition will have another set of packing days in late June to prep for the July and August distributions, Martin said.

Beyond the time and effort to fill and distribute boxes, Lee County has stepped up to assist the coalition with the summer project. Between donations, corporate sponsorships and grants, the coalition was able to raise the final $20,000 it needed to cover the summer boxes, Martin said.

“There’s no question we made our goal,” Martin said.

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