Food for the souls of health

Chris Mitchell, right, of Performance Food Group delivers food Friday to workers at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center. Pictured with Mitchell are Arlena Smith, left, and Cindy Hart.

With the spread of coronavirus affecting many, workers at area hospitals are in need of help. And they recently got a big helping hand from someone wanting to make a difference.

Chris Mitchell of Performance Food Group spent Friday morning delivering lunches prepared by The Caboose Restaurant in McComb to medical workers at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center.

In addition to delivering at Southwest, Mitchell’s program, known as Feeding Healthcare Heroes from Local Restaurants, has also delivered to Beacham Memorial Hospital in Magnolia, as well as other area clinics.

“Basically, it is something that a friend of mine from where I grew up sent to me on Saturday of last week,” Mitchell said.

“She had the idea of helping where the virus was having outbreaks — D.C., New York City, New Orleans. She reached out to me about coordinating some delivery in New Orleans.”

When Mitchell heard about the initiative, it provided a boost for him to get involved, providing help not only for local medical workers but also restaurants.

“When I heard the idea I thought, wow, this is something that we can execute in Pike County,” he said.

“Restaurants across the board typically have thin margins, and with being down 50 to 75% nation-wide, they are getting creative in all kinds of different ways. I just thought that if we can raise some money here locally in Pike County, it could go a long way to supporting our local restaurants making sure that we can help see them through this, but at the same time showing appreciation for the folks here at Southwest (hospital) and all over southwest Mississippi and how hard they are working to keep coronavirus contained.”

Since starting the program a week ago, Mitchell has already delivered eight meals over a four-day period. He adds that in six days, $16,000 to use in the program has also been raised through donations.

“Everyone that we have worked with so far has been super-appreciative and wanting to give more,” Mitchell said. “We are just going to keep placing 50, 75, 100-plate orders at a time until the money runs out.”

Mitchell and his company wanted to step up and help. He is part of a group that is working to lead a statewide initiative. Mitchell leads the southwest Mississippi region while three of his colleagues work out of the Jackson-area. He adds that folks from  other communities such as Starkville have also reached out to get involved.

“The four of us got together and decided that we are going to make that Jackson page kind of the central one for the rest of the state,” Mitchell said. “But everything raised in Pike County will stay in Pike County. We are coordinating with all of our other salesmen in other markets and seeing about launching it statewide.”

Tina Brumfield, director of public relations and marketing at SMRMC, is very thankful for the effort put forth by Mitchell, who is also her son-in-law.

“It is a blessing,” she said. “We have made deliveries several nights this week and a cardiovascular intensive care nurse came down and she said that she couldn’t believe how generous our public is.

“It really brought me to tears. Everyone is so appreciative. When I’d ask the emergency department what would you like to eat because Chris can get food from so many different restaurants here, they all said anything, anything, we just can’t believe this is happening. They are very grateful.”

Mitchell has also partnered with Doretha’s, The Mallard, La Mariposa and others.

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