Starting a platform designed to give back to the community is not something many 20-year-olds do every day, but Miss Mississippi hopeful and sophomore music major Mia Hall did just that.
In December, Hall developed Hidden Hunger, which provides food to hungry families in Hattiesburg. The issue of hunger was not something that Hall always considered.
“Based on the statistics there were people that I had to be friends with that were facing hunger and I don’t think that’s okay — not for America,” Hall said. “The number in America is one in five children in America live in food insecure homes and in Mississippi the number is one in four.”
After the death of her uncle, who was heavily involved in the organization BackPack Buddies, Hall decided to donate her own time to that cause. She started at Crosspoint Community Church in Hattiesburg and soon fell in
love with all of the children which fueled her desire to work with the organization.
BackPack Buddies is an organization that donates individually packaged non- perishable food to children from food-insecure homes. Children from these homes do not know whether they will have food at home over the weekend. The organization ensures that these students have meals while they are away from schools.
Hall takes the food that does not meet the BackPack Buddies guidelines to local food pantries.
“I named my program Hidden Hunger because it is kind of a hidden hunger it’s not something you hear about all the time,” Hall said. “You here about hungry children in third world countries but you don’t hear about them in Hattiesburg.”
Hall said that she wanted to the title to let people know that hunger is an issue and felt that the direct title would grab corporate attention. She hopes the name raises awareness of the issue and calls people to donate money in addition to food.
“I need money because the food donations are wonderful, but right now the volunteers that do BackPack Buddies are not only volunteering their time to feed these students but they’re also volunteering their own money to buy the food to feed these children and that gets really hard,” Hall said.
Last month, she held a food drive that raised 2,000 pounds of food. Hall found the food drive to be successful and believed that the people of Hattiesburg and Mississippi willingly donate to hungry children.
Mississippi artist Greg Cartnell heard about the work Hall was doing and donated a painting worth more than $3,000 and Cooper French donated a painting worth more than $1,000. Hall set up a $5 raffle for the painting that will run until May 12.
Hall hopes to start more chapters at other churches so they can cover different schools in the Pine Belt area. She will continue this platform as she competes for the Miss Mississippi pageant this year.
For more information on the raffle, visit gofundme.com/hiddenhunger.