Food Stamps Fall Short and How MSK Tries to Bridge The Gap

MSK currently serves over 400 families in our weekly on site pantry.  We have an average of 100 families attend each week.  Most of those families attend once or twice per month when they have a need.  Many of guests also receive food stamps, but still struggle to cover the costs of purchasing healthy food for a family.  Our guests often care for children and aging parents while trying to work part time or full time.  After rent has been paid, there is often not enough money to cover a weekly groceries with the limited food stamps they receive.  The MSK pantry provides meat, fruits/vegetables, deli, canned goods, and dry goods that supplement a families' limited grocery budget so that their children will have healthy meals.  MSK is providing an essential support to families by allowing them to utilize their limited financial resources on other essential needs such as rent, gas to get to work, medication, and health care.  

Food stamps don’t cover the cost of healthy eating.
Here’s how far they fall short.


OCTOBER 20, 2017 09:49 AM
UPDATED OCTOBER 22, 2017 11:42 AM

Food stamps aren’t enough for families to afford the healthy diet the federal government recommends. A researcher at N.C. State University has helped define the financial distance between food stamps and healthy eating.

It would cost a family of four, with two adults and two children, as much as $627 more per month than they receive in food stamps to eat the recommended healthy diet, concluded a study co-authored by Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, an assistant professor and extension specialist at N.C. State.

People who use food stamps must have a maximum income before taxes that’s 130 percent of poverty. For a family of four, that’s $2,628 a month. Research shows that most food stamp recipients work. North Carolina recipients must prove they’re working, volunteering or taking classes at least 20 hours a week.

People using food stamps often use food pantries to supplement their purchases.

Late Tuesday, Maya McDowell, 32, waited in the lobby of the Catholic Charities food pantry in Raleigh for a donation that will help feed her and her two sons, ages 3 and 8.

McDowell said she works part time at a restaurant, and her 3-year-old son qualifies for benefits from a nutrition program for young children in addition to the food stamps the family receives.

The food she buys with $346 a month worth of food stamps lasts two to three weeks, she said. After all the monthly bills are paid, she said, “whatever I have goes to food.”

The $60 she has left isn’t enough to buy food that will last for the rest of the month, so she fills the gaps with food pantry trips.

Food stamps are officially called SNAP, for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The program is not meant to cover a family’s entire monthly food bill, but it’s hard for families – after paying for housing and other expenses – to fill the gap, Haynes-Maslow said.

“If we’re going to recommend what is a healthy diet, we should consider (whether) people can follow this diet,” she said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers SNAP and created the nutrition guide MyPlate, showing recommended proportions of fruit, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.

MyPlate replaced the food pyramid in 2010.

MyPlate suggests putting fruit and vegetables on half a plate, and protein and grains on the other half. There should be a bit more vegetables than fruit, and a bit more grain than protein. The daily recommendation for women ages 31-50 is 1 1/2 cups of fruit; 2 1/2 cups of vegetables; 6 servings of grains (a slice of bread is a serving); and 5 servings of protein (an ounce of meat or an egg is a serving).

It’s hardest to cover food costs for boys and men 12 years old to 50 years old because they eat the most, according to the study.

The researchers considered a variety of ways a family could meet the dietary recommendations. The most expensive way is to eat all fresh food. The least expensive diet is vegetarian, with an even division between fresh, frozen and canned food.

The researchers did not take into account that school-aged children whose families use food stamps may be eating one or more free or reduced-priced meal at school.

The researchers also included in their calculations the cost of labor involved in preparation. Kranti Mulik, a senior economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists and one of the study’s authors, said the labor costs were included because the increase in women in the workforce has led to higher household incomes, but less time for food preparation. As a result, households seek convenient substitutes. The efficiency of food assistance programs can be affected by the cost of food preparation at home.

Money for food stamps is in the federal Farm Bill, which comes up for votes in Congress about every five years. SNAP benefits are contentious, and some in Congress want cuts.

Most people who come to the Catholic Parish Outreach food pantry also use food stamps, said Terry Foley, director of the pantry. It’s the largest food pantry in the region, and provided food to an average of 8,500 people per month last year.

The pantry gives out a wide variety of food, from deli salads to desserts. Volunteers this week were directing people to carts loaded with cereal, canned vegetables, rice, beans, pasta and other staples. They also gave out meat, cake, fresh oranges, salad greens and other items.

Foley said meat is the most requested food item, since it’s the most expensive. Fresh produce is next.

People can use the food pantry once a month, she said, and people come three times a year, on average.

Sammy Hobgood, food pantry/nutrition program manager at Urban Ministries of Wake County, estimated that 80 percent of people who use the service also have food stamps.

“Anything that sells in the grocery store is popular here,” he said.

Urban Ministries operates a “client choice” pantry that lets people select what they want. For example, they can choose the brands of peanut butter, or between types of canned vegetables.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are popular choices, Hobgood said.

“It’s exciting how much produce we have,” he said. “Everyone wants to provide fresh food for their children, for their family.”


Original Article:

Volunteering at MSK

By MSK Volunteers, Sabrina Underbrink and Tyshameka Hollins

September 28, 2017
Mooresville- This week at Mooresville Soup Kitchen (MSK) we decided to explore the
benefits of volunteerism by taking the time to ask our volunteers a few questions about their service at the soup kitchen. We thought it would be nice to share a summary of some of their answers.

First, we asked our volunteers what they thought were some benefits of being an MSK
volunteer. Some said they had a sense of self satisfaction and some said they felt being at MSK gave them happiness in the moment and happiness that was long lasting after they left for the day. Others expressed volunteering benefited them as their way to be an obedient servant to others and the Lord. Also said was coming to MSK was a great way to meet people in the community that enjoy helping others.

Next, we asked our volunteers how much of an impact they felt their work made on our guests. Our volunteers felt they encourage nutrition here at MSK by being able to provide our guests with meals on a daily basis they may not have gotten otherwise. One volunteer expressed they loved being able to provide a home like experience for guests by lending a listening ear, using kind words, and establishing a welcoming spirit and atmosphere here at MSK.

We then asked our volunteers how they thought they impacted not only the guests, but the community. Here at MSK our volunteers feel they are given the opportunity to bring people together in a judgment free zone to show them there are people in their community, be it their neighbor or someone they’ve never met that share the same struggles. By meeting these people we can prove to them that they are not alone in this world and there are people in their community, not just at MSK, who care about them and support them. Our volunteers at MSK are able to see the impact they make in the community when our guests leave radiating with positivity and go out into the community to continue to spread that positivity. It’s a great thing when we get new guests who say they've heard about how great of an experience their friend or family member had at MSK and that they wanted to come experience it for themselves. That is how much of an impact our volunteers make in the community and it is a wonderfully awesome thing!

The last thing we asked our volunteers was how much they learned from the guests they meet while serving at MSK. While society stereotypes people who go to soup kitchens, our volunteers have learned there all kinds of people who come to the soup kitchen hungry and in need. They have learned people are not as they appear and have met people who come to MSK who are their neighbor, church member, or coworker. Our volunteers come to learn that every one of our guests has something different going on in their lives and everyone lives a different life than the person they may sit next to in church. Overall, our volunteers know what it means to be grateful, thankful , and appreciative of the lives they’ve been given by seeing the hands of people in their community reach out in need and being able to fill them.

Our volunteers are the best part of MSK. Without them we would cease to exist and with them we strive in being able to provide the best we can to our guests and community by helping those who cannot help themselves. As said by one of volunteers, Sabrina, “It is a privilege to be able to serve others in such a wonderful atmosphere of MSK and to do so under the name and with the strength of Jesus Christ.”

Mooresville Soup kitchen is at 275 S. Broad St. and volunteers are always needed. For more information, go to or contact Ty Hollins at

Watermark Church Feeds Iredell September Food Drive Supports Local Needs

July 25, 2017
Troutman, North Carolina

Watermark Church ( is leading a “Feeding Iredell” food drive during the month of September.  Food collected will support the needs of Fifth Street Ministries ( ) and Yoke Fellow Ministry ( ) in Statesville NC, Mooresville Soup Kitchen ( ) in Mooresville NC, and the South Yadkin Baptist Association ( ) in Troutman NC.  Food items can be delivered to the Watermark Church campus at 321 Clontz Hill Road in Troutman, 4 – 7 pm Monday thru Friday and 10 am – Noon Saturday and Sunday.  Items will be accepted September 10 through September 30.  


The follow items are being collected:

  • Canned meats, fruits or vegetables (small or commercial cans)
  • Kid friendly packaged foods
  • Fruit juices 
  • Peanut butter and crackers
  • Packaged pasta or rice

“Watermark Church began 10 years ago with a vision to serve our community’s physical and spiritual needs,” shares Pastor Joel Settle.  “This food drive is a fantastic tool to help meet those needs, and an important part of an ongoing effort to feed Iredell’s hungry.”


Watermark Church is an interdenominational church located at 321 Clontz Hills Road, Troutman, NC.  For more information about Watermark Church, visit  

For more information about Feeding Iredell, contact:  Leslie Kusek, or 248.722.4178.