ThadBWJoin guest speaker and former Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel for the official "Thanks, Thad!...still giving" retirement dinner celebrating Senator Thad Cochran and his outstanding service to Mississippi and the United States!

The dinner, which will benefit non-profit healthy food supplier Extra Table, will be held on Thursday, June 7, 2018 at the Country Club of Jackson. The event will begin with a 5:30 p.m. cocktail hour, and dinner will begin at 6:30.

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Martha Allen, Executive Director of Extra Table said that the theme comes from the fact that Cochran has served Mississippi for so long and even as he retires he is thinking about the hungry Mississippians that Extra Table serves and how they could use his continued support.

The guest speaker is Chuck Hagel, former Secretary of Defense (February 2013 to February 2015) and U.S. Senator. Hagel is the only Vietnam veteran and the first enlisted combat veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense. “I’ve known Thad Cochran since he first came to Congress 45 years ago and served with him in the Senate for twelve years,” said Hagel. “He has been one of the most respected and effective members of Congress. His long and distinguished Congressional career has been one of character and integrity. Thad Cochran served the people of Mississippi and America with great distinction. The people of Mississippi can be proud of Thad Cochran’s service to their state.”

Cochran, a native of Pontotoc, Mississippi, was active in the Boy Scouts in his youth, eventually earning the rank of Eagle Scout. He attended the University of Mississippi and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He went on to serve as a cadet in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps before a two-year tour of duty in the Navy. He returned to Ole Miss to earn his Juris Doctor degree before going into law practice.

Cochran began his foray into politics began by directing Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign in Mississippi. Cochran won the race for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972, a post he held from 1973 to 1978, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was the first Republican in Mississippi in more than 100 years to win statewide office. His accomplishments were many during his service in the Senate. While he sought to limit government spending, he was able to deliver federal dollars to Mississippi through his work on the Appropriations Committee, particularly in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Thad Cochran has done so much for our state,” said Robert St. John, chef, author and founder of Extra Table. “We know that any effort to show our appreciation will fall short in comparison. Yet, we want to do everything we can to celebrate his legacy in the best – and most appropriate – way possible. The fact that he wants to make sure that Mississippians will still benefit through Extra Table, even after he’s out of office, speaks volumes. But I’m not surprised. It’s the way he has been since he arrived in Washington in 1973.”

Extra Table was founded by St. John in Hattiesburg in 2009 as a non-profit organization with a mission to supply healthy food in bulk to Mississippi food pantries and soup kitchens so people who are hungry can have the nutritious, shelf-stable meals they need. The organization now services 32 agencies in 26 counties throughout the state to provide food to those in need. Extra Table Foundation provides administrative support to the organization. “Extra Table is thankful to have Thad Cochran as a close partner in the fight against hunger in Mississippi,” said Allen.