Every year around the holidays, members of local churches would ask Sister Margaret Quinn for lists of families in need. They wanted to help the poor but didn’t know who the poor were. Sister Margaret worked with the poor every day at the Hernando Catholic Social Services office, but her resources were thin and the need was great. Why not put together those who wanted to help with those who needed it?
Pastors from area churches were asked to meet and pray to discern God’s will. In 1982, the Interfaith Council on Poverty was born. Through the years, the Council established a year-round food pantry and several annual projects, such as Thanksgiving baskets for seniors, Christmas outreach for families, and Dress-a-Child for elementary school children.
The food pantry itself went through many changes. For the first ten years, it was funded through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. In 1992, Desoto County lost those government funds, and member churches assumed complete responsibility for keeping the shelves stocked.
Originally, the pantry operated from the Catholic Social Services office. As needs grew, it moved from place to place until finally, in 2003, First Presbyterian Church of Hernando donated a site on which to build a permanent pantry. In 2011, the pantry was expanded, doubling space for donation storage. In both instances, area businesses and individuals pulled together to donate supplies and labor for the building projects.
Today, more than fifteen churches make up the Hernando/Nesbit Interfaith Council on Poverty, annually serving approximately 2500 seniors, adults, and children in the north Mississippi area.
Sister Adelia Milligan served the Interfaith Council on Poverty for eleven years and received the 2015 President’s Volunteer Service Award. She was given the special distinction of being the first in Desoto County to receive the Lifetime Service Award for donating more than 4000 hours of community service through Interfaith.
- 2019 Hernando/Nesbit Interfaith Council on Poverty
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