Marshall County inmates help to provide meals for malnourished children

(Information provided by the Mississippi Department of Corrections)

More than 100 incarcerated adults at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs are contributing to goodwill on a global scale by hand packing hundreds of meals for malnourished children around the world.

In partnership with the University of Mississippi, the privately-operated prison is again hosting a MobilePack event for the Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) network.

The event was held at the prison for a second time because of the success of last year’s meal packing. In March 2018, more than 110,000 meal packs were made and sent to Malawi, a country in southeastern Africa.

The plan is for two groups, consisting of 70 incarcerated adults each, to package dry meal ingredients such as soy, rice, protein, and vegetables. They are accompanied by UM faculty and students, Holly Springs firefighters, certified volunteers who regularly visit, as well as prison staff will work with them.

“Before FMSC left here last year, they were impressed about the response and support given to the program and immediately started planning to return,” said Deputy Warden of Programs Beverly McMullen. “We pulled the final details together in the last five to six months. Feed My Starving Children made a commitment to us saying they would love to come back because last year was such an enthusiastic and motivating event.”

McMullen said the program has made a difference in the lives of MCCF residents, such as Carlos Jackson and Nicholas Walker. Both saw people working together for a common good at the first event.

“Among the people in this place, we didn’t see race, we didn’t see staff, and we didn’t see inmates. We saw a group of people who were enjoying the opportunity to give back,” Jackson said.

Walker said he was proud of everyone who participated. “I saw a lot of people working really hard and being a part of something and giving back to the community,” he said.

Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall said her administration appreciates these types of events. “We aim to keep our residents in custody busy in a positive, constructive manner,” Commissioner Hall said.

Founded in 1987, FMSC is a Christian nonprofit that provides meals specifically for malnourished children. Donations fund the meal ingredients; volunteers hand-pack the meals, and then the meals are sent to food partners that distribute them to children abroad.

McMullen said the idea for the MCCF to participate came from Dr. John Wade, a retired professor from Southeast Missouri State, who has visited the facility as a volunteer. “We thought it sounded like a fantastic opportunity,” McMullen said.

Dr. Linda Keena, interim chair and associate professor of Legal Studies at UM, arranged the partnership with the university. Resident students of a  restorative justice class taught by Keena at the prison participate in the packing event.