Food insecurity is a problem that affects communities worldwide, and United Way is taking steps to address this issue. During October, we've focused on various programs to help people get the food they need, from supporting food banks to educational initiatives on farming. We use this month to combat hunger and celebrate the diverse cuisines across our global network.
In Mississippi, this issue hits close to home. Over 22% of its residents face challenges related to food security. United Way of West Central Mississippi (UWWCM) is involved in local efforts to address this problem. One of their standout events, "Supper on the 'Sip," is a community gathering that reflects the state's rich culinary traditions. From fried chicken to fresh vegetables and cornbread, the Hospitality State is known for its Sunday dinner table 'fixins. Alyssa Lick, the Director of Marketing and Resource Development at UWWCM, highlights the event as a way for local restaurants and small businesses to give back to the community. "It's amazing to see the community come together and dine on the bridge," she says. “Community is a huge part of who Vicksburg is. This year, the restaurants had the opportunity to serve the community that continually serves us.”
But "Supper on the 'Sip" is not just a food festival; it serves a higher purpose. All the money raised from this event supports UWWCM's 15 partner agencies that focus on combating hunger in Mississippi. They work closely with local food pantries and have partnered with Walmart to reach as many people as possible.
UWWCM also supports educational initiatives. One program, led by community members Ali Hopson and Linda Fondren, teaches mothers who receive SNAP benefits how to prepare nutritious meals for their families. This program approaches the issue of food insecurity from another angle, emphasizing the importance of not just food but nutritious food.
"Supper on the 'Sip" has become an important community event, drawing over a thousand participants yearly and often selling out in less than 36 hours. People who attend get a wristband and a tray, allowing them to sample offerings from more than 25 local vendors. The event fosters community spirit and serves as a vital fundraiser for the United Way. UWWCM Executive Director Michele Connelly says, “I am humbled by and grateful for the many restaurants, sponsors, musicians, artists, volunteers, and the community for their generous support through Supper on the 'Sip. We truly couldn't do any of this without them. It's amazing to see our community come together, united in one purpose for such a special event.”
UWWCM turns the joy of a community food gathering into a powerful tool for change. By honoring Mississippi's culinary traditions and convening the Vicksburg community, "Supper on the 'Sip" promotes financial stability by advertising and engaging small businesses and combats food insecurity by raising funds to support its programs. The event demonstrates the many ways we can join the cause to end food insecurity. Reach out to your local United Way to find out how you can help.