Library to provide food for thought and the hungry


The Library of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County, Extra Table, and The University of Southern Mississippi are teaming up to deliver food for thought and food for the hungry. 

A six-week long donation drive for Extra Table will culminate at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 30, when USM professor Andrew Haley delivers a lecture titled “Cookbooks for a Cause: Community Cookbooks, Women’s Lives, and the Southern Miss Culinary Collection.”

In January 2018, the library had a canned food drive that was very successful. They were once again looking at doing something to help the hungry in the community.  

For more than five years, Andrew Haley, a history professor at USM, has worked with Special Collections at Southern Miss to build the Mississippi Community Cookbook Project into an impressive collection of more than 8,000 volumes. Earlier this year, Haley and library director Sean Farrell decided that the two interests dovetailed perfectly.

“I’ve been wanting to have Andrew discuss his research into how women shaped the communities they lived in by publishing fundraising cookbooks for a while now,” said Farrell. “His research, and the actual collection of unique cookbooks, is really fasci-

nating. I think everyone is familiar with a community cookbook or two, but Andrew goes a step beyond when he explains how important these projects have been to Mississippi. When you add the library’s commitment to helping out with hunger in our area, well, it became clear what we could do together.”

The Library turned to Extra Table, a locally-based food pantry/soup kitchen supply charity. Extra Table has supplied literally tons of food to hungry people. 

“We are guided by two principles: the food we provide must be healthy and 100 percent of the donations we receive needs to go to purchase that healthy food,”  said Executive Director Martha Allen. “When the Library approached us about combining for a really interesting program with raising money to combat hunger, we couldn’t wait to get involved.”

To encourage participation as much as possible, door prizes were added as an incentive. 

 “Well, of course, we have a few autographed cookbooks, given the topic of Andrew’s research,” said Farrell.  “And what’s cooking without pots? So Viking has added a really nice 13-piece set,” Allen said.

“We are going to announce the door prize winners on Jan. 30, but you don’t need to be there to win.”

The public can begin participating right away by making donations at the Extra Table website, Donations will be accepted through Jan. 29.