TUPELLO, Miss. (WCBI) – Food insecurity is one of the many difficulties facing cancer patients. But it’s one that North Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Care doesn’t want its patients to face alone.
“People come here and trust us and say, ‘Hey, I don’t know if I have enough food to last me through the week,’” says oncology social worker Lauren Thompson.
Hope Food Pantry has provided food to cancer patients since 2019.
“A cancer diagnosis is expensive and leads to a change in financial status,” says Jamie Grissom, another oncology social worker at NMMC Cancer Center. “So someone who may have been financially sound a week ago may need help, and sometimes that comes down to needing food in the house.”
Thompson helped create the food pantry program after seeing how many patients he regularly referred to area food pantries.
“I feel like the need is increasing dramatically for patients who need food with prices going up and everything else,” he says.
The top three items they always need are shelf-stable milk, crackers, and peanut butter. Thompson says that non-perishable milk is the item that they usually run out of first.
“We need it because people use it in recipes to make some of the boxed dinners, they’ll use it with cereal,” she says.
And crackers and peanut butter meet many of his patients’ needs.
“Especially cancer patients who are sick, that’s a basic thing, it settles their stomach and everybody seems to want that,” says Thompson.
They are also in high demand for canned goods such as soup, vegetables, and SPAM.
“We try to keep healthy foods in stock for our patients and we try to keep cereal and snacks for younger children that may be in the home,” says Grissom.
And just as many of their patients depend on them for food, the pantry itself relies on donations.
“There were people who cried when they got the food because they appreciated it so much and just seeing these people in public, you don’t know who needs what in their life,” says Thompson. “At the end of the day, you made a difference by what you did and what you donated to help people in our community.”
Those interested in making a donation can call 662-377-2269. For more information on how to make a monetary donation or where to drop off food, Click here.