March 25, 2016

Community fights against Food Insecurity and aims for Healthier Lifestyle in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

For my last reading week as an undergraduate student, I wanted to experience something new and also learn more about a particular issue. Throughout my undergraduate experience, I have heard amazing stories from students who participated in Project Serve ( When thinking of which programs to choose, I decided to learn about the issue of race and poverty in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. There were three volunteer placements to choose from which were: Habitat for Humanity, Edward St. Fellowship Center, and Hawkins Elementary School. Out of the three, I decided to pick Edward St. Fellowship Center ( knowing that they have gardens and a food bank.

Edward St. Fellowship Center used to have community gardens where they would administer classes on how to do home gardening. They would provide a container or a piece of land to help communities in improving their health by gardening their fruits and vegetables. The only reason why they decided to end their program is that the gardener who administers the classes passed away.

The tasks that we did were helping at their gardens (planting apple trees and pear trees, and taking out the weeds in various blueberry bushes), packing food for food distribution, and organizing the thrift store. The organization not only invests in ensuring the food security of their clients but they also invest in their well-being. For instance, they try their best to only distribute food that is healthy.  Also, they plant fruits and vegetables on their land.  With regards to food resources, the fellowship center receives donated food but also purchases food. In the end, these efforts contribute to the food security of the community at an individual level. Many individuals on the receiving end are nourished because of this program.

Throughout my experience as a volunteer for Edward St. Fellowship Center, I notice that the organization tries to work with the community to fight against food insecurity. Moreover, not only do they aim to feed individuals, they also work hard to help their clients maintain a suitable lifestyle.
To be specific, I learned that:
1.      Food is a very important part of people’s culture.
2.      Community gardens are very important.
3.      Race and food deserts are related. 
4.      Food banks should be better designed.

 Florenz Gail Ongkingco, URA, ECVOntario, SEDRD, UoG, Canada

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