Local organization seeing increased need for food, utilities help

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- One in seven Americans live each day in poverty, that according 2009 United States Census figures.

One major factor is job losses nationwide.

Arkansas has the third highest incidence of hunger in the nation, according to a 2009 study from the Department of Agriculture.

It's not just a need for food, one local organization says they're seeing needs increase across the board.

"When I came here, it took one person seeing me sitting there alone and broken to say I will help you," said Mission Outreach employee, Jodi Miller.

Now, Jodi Miller is helping others who walk through these doors to get on their feet.

"A lot of the stories are job loss--significant job loss," said Miller.

That job loss or reduction in hours is leading more and more people to Mission Outreach in Paragould for help with food to help paying bills.

"We have seen drastic increases across the board especially in the areas of rent and utilities assistance and the number of individuals that we are assisting," said Development Director for Mission Outreach, Jeremy Biggs.

Utility and rent assistance, the number of people assisted, the number of food boxes distributed, and the number of hot meals served are all up from the same time last year.

"More and more people are coming in for first time assistance that have never been helped by Mission Outreach before," said Biggs.

Biggs adds the demand will also increase due to winter months approaching and more people typically needing assistance with their utility bills.

"Laborers will see a drawback in their hours which will mean a reduction in their budgets and more people will need assistance with rent and utilities to keep warm and keep the lights on," said Biggs.

"I keep it in the back of my head where I've been from," said Miller.

Jodi Miller says that's what keeps her moving forward--and she hopes to help give others the tools needed to do the same thing.

"I had done so many things wrong, I wasn't going to do the wrong thing, I was going to do the next right thing," said Miller.

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