Molina Healthcare of Mississippi partnered with the Mississippi Food Network on Thursday to host a mobile food pantry drive-thru event in Pickens.

Hundreds of cars stretched down North 2nd Street next to the town’s municipal building as they waited for their first-come, first-serve boxes of food that included fresh produce, fruit and protein. The Mississippi Food Network prepared the boxes for nearly 250 households. The organization helps with about three mobile pantries a month in the state’s most food-insecure areas. 

Pickens, located in Holmes County, is considered a food desert with the nearest grocery store located almost 20 miles away in Canton.

The county had one of the highest projected rates of food insecurity in the state following Jefferson County due to the impact of COVID-19, according to a study by Feeding America in 2020. Holmes County ranked third nationally in projections of the highest overall food insecurity rates at 34.5%, the study found.

“Hopefully, it will help them get to the end of the month,” said Cassandra Mobley, Mississippi Food Network director of agency relationships and programs. “We have food pantries and senior programs that distribute food on a regular basis here in Holmes County. This just an extra effort.”

The food network’s partner in this mobile pantry was Molina Healthcare, which contracts with Mississippi to offer a Medicaid-sponsored health insurance program for low-income children and adults.

“Food is our biggest disparity, especially with rising prices of everything. That’s why we chose to come to Pickens,” said Marques Slaughter, Molina Healthcare member engagement and growth specialist. “We like to get out into the community to bring awareness to health, help bring healthy options to the area and identify community resources and disparities.”

The Mississippi Food Network will have its next food pantry drive-thru event on July 21 at Mississippi Valley State in Leflore County.


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Eric J. Shelton was a 2018 corps member in Report for America, and joined the team as our first photojournalist. A native of Columbia, Miss., Eric earned his bachelor’s in photojournalism from the University of Southern Mississippi. He was a multimedia journalist for Abilene Reporter-News, chief photographer for the Hattiesburg American and photo editor for the Killeen Daily Herald before joining our team June 2018. He rejoined Mississippi Today as our health photojournalist in January 2022.