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Storehouse and Stewpot

December 7, 2012

Mississippi – Monday, December 3

Since I spent the night in Vicksburg, I had researched some food pantries, and had found one called Storehouse. They had a nice website that indicated they were open on Mondays, and they also had a wish list of items they could use. So I took the wish list into Kroger with me, and did my shopping. I got mac and cheese, rice, peanut butter and jelly, tuna, canned ravioli, grits (first time I’ve seen grits on a wish list!), oatmeal and cereal. They also wanted Jiffy corn muffin mix, and I always like to include that anyway, since it’s made in my hometown! Then I found the food pantry and walked in to see where I should bring the groceries. They had me sign in, and let me use a shopping cart that made it easy to bring all the bags in. There were 4-5 volunteers working and they were all really nice. They were helping a couple families, but after they left, things were quiet for a few minutes, which isn’t usually the case on a Monday morning! So I had a chance to talk with several of the volunteers – one of them told me how happy they were with their new location which had both heat and air conditioning (in the past they’ve had one or the other which is not ideal). Another one showed me around – their space is clean and very well organized, with shelf space labeled for different groups of groceries. They have an “overflow” space which had food in it now, but the volunteer told me that although they’re in reasonably good shape now because of people’s generosity during the holiday season, there will probably be slim pickings come next April or May. And I’ve heard several people make comments to that effect – people think of the homeless and hungry during the holidays, and don’t always remember them during the rest of the year when the need is still great. Summer months can be tough for food pantries. They also have lists of what to provide the families with who come to them – and it’s mostly based on family size. They are considered an emergency food pantry – families may visit 3 times a year when things get extra tight; it is not meant for weekly use. I enjoyed talking with them.

As I was leaving, another volunteer suggested I might want to walk down by the Mississippi River again to enjoy all the murals on the town side of the levee walls. So Tula and I did that – I could tell last night that there was some artwork down there, but couldn’t see it at night. There were about 20 big murals and it made a nice art walk. I also went thru an opening to the river side of the levee, and my mind simply cannot comprehend the high water marks on the levee. The river was still a little below me, and to think of all the water that would have to pour into the river to bring levels way over my head is almost unbelievable. But it has happened. The town also had a tornado memorial from a devastating tornado back in the 50s. But Vicksburg is still there – through Civil War, tornado and floods!

Then I shopped for my 2nd donation of the day. I had also read about a food pantry down in Natchez called The Stewpot, and I liked that name! Since I was headed in that direction, I contacted them, and they said they would be happy to get anything I would like to bring them. But Natchez was a little farther away than I thought (and I may have lingered a little too long in Vicksburg!) and in the end I knew I was not going to get there by the time the food pantry closed at 2:00. I called then to say I was going to be late, and if they would like, I could drop the groceries off the next day. But the lady told me she would make arrangements to have someone there when I arrived, and I got there about 1/2 hour after the food pantry had closed for the day. I went around to the back as instructed, and 2 younger people met me back there, and they carried the food into the building, then came back out to wait for their ride. So I didn’t really talk with anyone there.

Tula and I had a lot of walking to do since we had only done about a mile back in Vicksburg. And fortunately Natchez was a wonderfully walkable city. I got a map at the visitor center, and Tula and I walked up and down all the streets in the historic part of town, and out into several neighborhoods. I walked past several stately antebellum homes, and through other neighborhoods where flowers on trees were still blooming and it smelled so good. There was also a long river walk by the Mississippi River and we walked the whole length of that; both along the topside of the levee which was parklike, and then down by the river which was more like a nature trail. Again, those levees are 20-30 ft tall and I just can’t get my head around that much more water in the river! The trail by the river had nice signs periodically describing the local flora and fauna and they were fun to read – until I got to the sign about the varieties of venomous snakes in the area. I quickly left the river trail and got myself back up to the top of the levee! By this time it was beginning to get dark, and the park had a lot of mechanical Christmas displays that were all lit up and it was a festive way to finish up walking. We walked 7 miles all over Natchez.

Since it was relatively warm out, I was hoping to camp tonight, and there were 2 campgrounds kind of close. One of them was a state park, but the website had reviews that they allowed in-season hunting, and since I didn’t know who might be hunting for what, I decided that wouldn’t be a good choice. The other one campground looked good on the website, but quite different when I arrived! I decided it would be a motel night after all, so I stayed put in Natchez; ready to head east in the morning.
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