Mrs. Mississippi Partners with Extra Table to Provide Meals to Children Through the Holidays

Madison, Miss. – Nearly 200,000 children in Mississippi don’t have enough to eat, and that was before COVID took away the two meals a day nearly quarter of a million children depend on while attending school in person. Whitney Gladden, Mrs. Mississippi America 2020 and an avid volunteer, has partnered with Extra Table to bring the BOX PROJECT to local businesses to ask for help to feed children, their families and the elderly through the holidays.

The BOX PROJECT is a healthier and affordable option to canned food drives.

“Many public schools haven’t returned to class since Thanksgiving,” Gladden said. “For many children, that was their only source of food during the week. When COVID started, my children and I hit the ground running making lunches for these kids because they have nothing to eat. We pack lunches every single holiday for kids who don't have lunch when they’re not at school. By partnering with Extra Table, we can reach more families much faster at a time they need it the most.”

According to Extra Table, 600,840 people in Mississippi face hunger and 56 percent of Mississippi seniors don’t have enough to eat. Local pantries are experiencing food insecurity at record highs due to COVID.

Over the next week, Gladden will be taking boxes and a list of food items needed to local businesses to ask them to take part in filling the boxes with food that isn’t processed, high fat, expired or filled with sugar. Food items can include healthier options like instant oatmeal, peanut butter and pasta sauce. It takes approximately $10 to $15 to fill one box.

“This is such an easy thing for individuals to do to help others during the holidays,” Gladden said. “So many people have lost their jobs at a fast rate. If we can alleviate the food line for even one person, that's worth it, but we'll help hundreds or thousands of people.”

Gladden has been volunteering with Extra Table for three years but said this is her first year taking the boxes to local businesses. As a mom of two, she and her husband Lee have always tried to teach the value of helping others. Through her platform, “Kids for a Cause,” her children have founded their own service organization providing needs for the homeless population.

Gladden was crowned Mrs. Mississippi America in June and will compete for the title of Mrs. America in January in Las Vegas.


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Random facts about me: I'm a Friends and coffee addict, I collect Monopoly board games (I'm the Monopoly champion, after all!) and I'm a closet romantic (shhhh). But mostly, I love being a mom, serving my country and all things journalism!

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