JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Volunteers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center are helping fill the empty plates of those in need. Medical student Mariam Ebeid organized the group to gather food that would be tossed out, and instead, donate it to Stewpot. The future doctor and the other volunteers show why they are Mississippi Strong.
Mariam Ebeid, a second year medical student at UMMC, wondered what happened to all the untouched leftovers in the cafeteria.
“One of my college roommates actually is the person that initially got me interested in it because she helped start it at Rhodes College in Memphis,” said Ebeid.
She decided last March to bring the same idea to UMMC. After recruiting volunteers in the School of Medicine, Graduate Studies and Health Related Professions, Ebeid reached out to the cafeteria and Chef Richard Curtis with Morrison Healthcare, who was ready to help out. He sets the food aside in Ziploc bags, inspects it to make sure it's all good and then the students pick it up.
“It’s an amazing opportunity. The whole staff has bought into it,” said Richard Curtis, the Executive Chef at UMMC. "They really are excited about us being able to provide these meals.”
Campbell’s Bakery also makes donations. Owner Mitchell Moore told us, “Who knows that one day we might not be in a place where we need someone from the community that we live in to help out as well. So, when we’re in that position, what more can we do other than to give back?”
So far, with the more than 40 pounds donated Tuesday, Ebeid and 50 volunteers have given more than 3,000 pounds of food to Stewpot since May.
Louise Spencer, a second year medical student, said, “I love coming down here and being able to re-use things that we can’t use at UMMC, making sure that they go to the right people.”
Simmi Pal, a UMMC Masters Program student, added, “It makes you feel better, actually. Interacting with people and being able to, you know, see their faces when you’re giving the food.”
Theresa Ernest, the Kitchen Manager at Stewpot, said, “Thank y’all so much. That’s my girl right there, she’s always on time. Thank y’all. It’s awesome, I love her. She is so sweet, all of them. I love them. They’re right on time. It makes all the difference. It makes a lot of difference. A lot of difference.”
Ebied says long after she and the other volunteers graduate and begin their careers in medicine, other students are already being lined up to continue and sustain this food drive.
The volunteers pick up the food twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. According to Feeding America, more than 600 thousand people in this state, that’s one in five, struggle with hunger. Among them - 176 thousand children.