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MSU donates masks to community organizations

Mississippi State University recently donated a box of 500 masks to the SOS Food Pantry in Crystal Springs, delivered through the Copiah County Extension Service.  Pictured are (from left) Melissa Morgan, MSU Copiah County Extension agent; Howard Thornton, volunteer; Tricia Nelson, pantry director; and Shelby Bearden, MSU Copiah County Extension agent.  

Mississippi State University recently received a grant to purchase masks to donate to service organizations across the state. On Nov. 9, MSU Extension agents Melissa Morgan and Shelby Bearden delivered a box of 500 masks to the Service Over Self (SOS) Food Pantry in Crystal Springs. The masks have been treated specifically to fight the spread of germs and can withstand several washings before the special treatment breaks down.
Food pantry director Tricia Nelson was delighted to receive the masks and looks forward to passing them along to pantry recipients, many of whom are seniors. While some pantries have seen an increase in need, the SOS Food Pantry has seen a decrease in recipients. The decrease is directly tied to the fact that the elderly are staying home, and some people are still not willing to get out and risk exposure.
The pantry normally services about 250 families with 400 people but in April, there was a sharp decline due to COVID. The pantry continued to distribute boxes of food but in an improvised drive-thru manner.
The past couple of months, the pantry has returned to its normal procedures for distribution but with CDC measures in place, requiring masks and social distancing. The donation of masks is much needed since the pantry sees some of the most needy people in the area, many of whom can use an extra mask.
Still, the number of recipients is down. For the past several months, about 120 families have been receiving food. They also received a frozen chicken from Wilson’s this month and will again in December. Nelson hopes as a vaccine program is implemented and the virus declines that people will return.
Nelson is also a Copiah County Master Gardner who is involved with projects through the MSU Extension Service throughout the year. November will be the first time since March the Master Gardeners will meet in person, of course, with masks in-hand and socially distanced.