Skip to content

Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

Extra Table Christmas

December 4, 2013


The season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is often reserved as a time when we count our blessings. I am blessed in many ways. I have a dedicated and loving wife, healthy children, loving family members, great friends, and 220 devoted co-workers who make it possible for me to go to work every day in a business that I love.

As a society we are overly blessed.

The danger in being overly blessed is that we tend to forget about those who aren’t as blessed. This time of year, more than any other, we need to reach out to our neighbors in need.

Many churches, agencies and civic organizations are set up to purchase toys for children whose parents might not have enough money for Christmas presents. We need to support those groups. Some organizations provide clothing others offer shelter. This time of year so many people step up to the plate and that is one more thing that makes Mississippi— and Mississippians— great.

The most fundamental need, however, is food. Before we think about anything else— clothing, shelter, toys—  that basic need must be met. Today in Mississippi there are over 638,000 of our neighbors who are food insecure. Throughout our state there are over 209,000 children whose main concern is not what Santa Claus might leave them Christmas morning, but the real-world reality that they don’t know when they will eat their next meal.

That’s not a faraway third-world country statistic. Those 209,000 children are in our state, in our backyard.

We are fortunate that Mississippi has many food pantries, soup kitchens, and agencies that help feed those in need. Unfortunately, this time of year the demand is great and supplies run low.

Extra Table is a non-profit organization that helps keep mission pantries and soup kitchen’s shelves stocked with healthy food. Extra Table has partnered with Sysco, the nation’s leading foodservice distributor, to deliver healthy food directly to the doorsteps of the food agencies on the frontline of hunger in Mississippi.

Extra Table is the smart, cost-effective way to end hunger in Mississippi.

Extra Table purchases tons of food using bulk-buying power. The charitable dollar goes much farther using Extra Table. One can buy a cart full of canned goods at the grocery store, or let Extra Table purchase two cartloads of food for the same price.

Extra Table only purchases healthy, shelf-stable food— low-fat proteins, low-sugar fruits, and healthy grains. By doing so, Extra Table fights hunger and obesity simultaneously.

It is a very simple and effective system:

1.) Extra Table receives a donation.

2.) Using bulk buying power, Extra Table uses 100% of the donation to purchase healthy food— at wholesale prices— from Sysco.

3.) Sysco delivers the Extra Table food bundle to mission pantries and soup kitchens across the state.

4.) Mission pantries and soup kitchens distribute the food to hungry citizens in their area.

The beauty of the system is that 100% of a donation goes to purchase food, and since Extra Table buys wholesale and in bulk it becomes the wisest way to give. No administration fees, office fees, or travel fees are subtracted from donations.

For Extra Table to be able to make sure that 100% of food donations always go to food we host a few fundraisers each year to help offset the cost of our two employees and our minimal office expenditures. The most important of these events is the Extra Table Christmas Concert.

The Extra Table Christmas Concert is the ultimate don’t-miss event of the holiday season. The 45-minute program takes place at the historic Saenger Theatre in downtown Hattiesburg and includes area high school choirs, a full symphony orchestra, and a guest narrator. Nothing will put you into the Christmas spirit like this event. It’s a community wide holiday celebration.

Whether you live in North Mississippi or just down the street, this event, alone, is worth your time and effort. The actual program is unlike anything in the state and the proceeds from the event help ensure that all Extra Table food donations received throughout the year go to purchase food.

Help Extra Table continue to help Mississippi. Attend the Extra Table Christmas Concert on December 10th. There are two 45-minute performances: 6p.m. and 8p.m. University of Southern Mississippi Symphony conductor, Jay Dean, will conduct the orchestra. Father Tommy Conway is the guest narrator, and student choirs from Hattiesburg Public Schools, Petal, Oak Grove, North Forrest, Sacred Heart, Presbyterian Christian School and William Carey University will sing. Tickets are only $20.00 for adults and $10.00 for children and can be purchased through the Saenger Theatre.

Fight hunger and get into the Christmas spirit at the same time. Attend the Extra Table Christmas Concert. Thank you in advance for your support.

Recent Posts

Pizza Ground Zero

BARBERINO-TAVARNELLE, TUSCANY— Naples is the birthplace of pizza. It’s an ancient and historic seaside city that can be a little…

Read more


BARBERINO-TAVARNELLE, ITALY— As a kid almost every restaurant in my hometown was independently owned and local. Granted, there weren't too…

Read more


PETROGNANO, ITALY— It’s true that there’s no place like home, and I deeply and dearly love my hometown of Hattiesburg…

Read more