Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
Biloxi VA Medical Center Hosts Mobile Food Pantry
BILOXI, Miss. – Biloxi Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center employees volunteered to distribute 200 boxes of non-perishable food and other goods during a July 29 event designed to support Veteran families during the ongoing global health crisis.
The Mobile Food Pantry, spearheaded by the GCVHCS Homeless Veterans Program, was designed to provide non-perishable goods to Veterans and their families during the ongoing health crisis. The event provided a contactless drive-through experience, with GCVHCS employees distributing pre-loaded bags to Veterans, caregivers and other eligible individuals who remained in their vehicles.
“The safety and well-being of the Veterans we serve is our utmost consideration,” said Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS) Director Bryan C. Matthews. “And even while observing CDC [Center for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations, we’re still providing – and will always provide – care and assistance to the Veterans we are here to serve.”
The GCVHCS Homeless program distributed the non-perishable items primarily donated by Feeding the Gulf Coast, a Feeding America regional member. Additional items donated directly to the GCVHCS’ Voluntary Services were also included in the effort, according to GCVHCS Homeless Veterans Program Manager Jodi Picciano-Swanson.
“During the ongoing health crisis, many people lost their jobs, adding additional stressors like how utilities, rent or a mortgage would be paid and how they were going to keep food on the table,” she said. “While the [GCVHCS] Homeless Program maintains a food pantry for homeless Veterans, the goal of partnering with Feeding the Gulf Coast is to serve other Veterans experiencing food shortages.”
Picciano-Swanson added, however, that GCVHCS Volunteer Services continuously accepts donations of non-perishable items, including toiletries, for the more than 700 homeless and at-risk Veterans – with more than 200 of them in Biloxi, Mississippi, alone – along the Gulf Coast.
The Biloxi VA Medical Center’s Mobile Food Pantry was an all-volunteer effort, Picciano-Swanson said, with Biloxi VA Medical Center employees volunteering to fill bags the morning of July 29 and distribute those during the drive-through, an effort she says is indicative of the organization’s ongoing mission.
“The ongoing global health crisis is affecting so many people right now,” she said. “Some of our nation’s Veterans might be particularly at risk, and ensuring they have basic necessities like food and toiletries is one of our top considerations. These Veterans have already endured so much, and the GCVHCS is always here to help.”
GCVHCS Voluntary Services Officer Robert Davis said the community has historically donated goods to the organization for Veterans in need, and this event – at the height of the ongoing global pandemic – continues to demonstrate the sense of community the organization maintains with area individuals and organizations.
“Our Veterans are our top priority, and the community here has always been an integral part of our mission,” Davis said. “The GCVHCS’ pantry is always looking for ways to work with our community to provide assistance to our Veterans, and the donations we received for this event will definitely provide assistance to those who have served our country.”
Community members interested in donating are encouraged to contact GCVHCS Voluntary Services at 228-523-5763.
The Biloxi Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, along with the Mobile, Pensacola, Eglin and Panama City VA Clinics are all part of the GCVHCS, which is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provides a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 70,000 Veterans.