Written by Jamie Dickson | Photographed by Paul Wolf
About ten years ago, Langston Moore made a decision that he says, some of his friends still don’t understand.
“We were living outside of Jackson,” in a nearby suburban community, “but my wife Lisa and I spent so much time in Fondren on the weekends, moving here just made sense.”
Moore says that the draw for the neighborhood was multi-layered.
The restaurants and entertainment offerings were obvious draws, but he was also attracted to the numerous opportunities to serve, he says. His involvement in the neighborhood began simply enough: volunteering for Fondren’s First Thursday.
This led him to feel more connected to Fondren, and eventually, he and his wife began attending Fondren Church.
Moore, an employee of the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, has always had a desire to serve, but he wondered how he could provide more than labor for neighborhood gatherings.
His “a-ha” moment came during the winter of 2017 when Jackson suffered numerous broken water pipes during the hard freeze in late December. He realized that with JPS schools closed, many families would find themselves lacking food.
“A lot of families use school as a way to feed their kids breakfast and lunch,” Moore says. “With a budget that’s already tight, adding some unexpected meals could potentially wreck a family’s monthly money situation.” So he found a mission: feed people. But how?
The answer to this question lay 90 miles south in Hattiesburg. Through his work with the Partnership, Moore was introduced to Dr. Tamara Hurst, director of the Eagle’s Nest food pantry for the University of Southern Mississippi.
Moore toured Eagle’s Nest, which provides food and necessities to USM students and faculty who find themselves in temporary need, and realized that he could easily mirror such an enterprise for the colleges in and around Jackson.
Taking what he learned from Eagle’s Nest, Moore reached out to MAZON, a Jewish community organization whose goal is to fight food insecurity, and eventually to Extra Table, a funding organization, to help raise inventory. As a result of these efforts, a sustainable food pantry is now in place at Jackson State, with plans to implement similar pantries for Tougaloo College, Coahoma Community College and Millsaps College students.
Whenever a need presents itself, Moore says he asks questions, chiefly, “What can I do about this?” When his neighborhood realized it needed speed bumps–or rather, “traffic control devices,” Moore says with a chuckle–he started the procedures to get some installed.
Before last Halloween, he pondered the difficulty of getting kids into costumes and getting them fed at a reasonable hour, so he invited the families in his neighborhood to his house for pizza. Fifteen families with all age ranges of children sat on his front lawn, dressed as superheroes and assorted animals, then departed en masse to collect candy from their neighbors. Moore expects–hopes, really–this year’s pizza party will be bigger. “I just have a passion for this city,” he boasts.
By feeding others, Moore’s passion is fed, and all involved are better for it.