MONROE, La. (KNOE) – Our region is home to thousands of people struggling with food insecurity, which means they don’t know where their next meal will be. Before the pandemic, the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana estimated that more than 63,540 people in northeastern Louisiana were facing famine.
Pandemics, hurricanes and now winter storms have raised that figure to about 75,000 people in NELA who are facing hunger according to Sarah Hoffman, Food Bank Development Director. He said it had increased by about 19% since the start of the pandemic.
“I’ve been here for more than five years now, and I’ve never seen a need like we’ve had over the past year,” said Hoffman. “Right now there is enough stress in our country and in our community that getting enough food to eat shouldn’t be one of those things.” Since the pandemic began, Hoffman said they have provided 6.2 million meals for those in need in their 12 parishes. “And we know every time we have a distribution the line is long, people get out of there hours early sometimes because they are desperate for a little help.”
Hoffman said NELA has experienced the highest rates of food insecurity in the entire country, especially among children.
“East Carroll Parish has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country, especially among children, at over 33%,” Hoffman explained. “Some of our rural parishes have higher levels of food insecurity than anywhere else because there is a slight shortage of job opportunities there, so it’s very important and important for us to serve those communities.”
Recent winter storms sent more children home from school, making it difficult for families who rely on additional help from school meals.
“Our kitchens are becoming empty, and for the many people who have children coming home from school, they really just eat up all the food. And then our grocery store also had trouble getting supplies, so a lot of people needed food, we tried to do additional food distribution. “
The Food Bank said they had tried to make as many additional distributions as possible to meet the needs here. Their partnership with Feed America is one of the reasons why they are so successful.
“We can work with them to receive monetary support as well as a food supply, so national donors can donate truckloaded food through Feeding America, then we can get it here just for delivery.”
Hoffman said a donation of just $ 10 helps them provide 55 meals to people, and a $ 100 donation will provide senior food each month for a year. A feat he says would not have been possible without their Feeding America partnership.
“Oh, the cost of food would be much higher if we weren’t Feeding America partners, they are also wonderful that in case of a natural disaster, they will usually send water and food trucks to help when we need it. the most.”
In 2020, a study by Feeding America estimated that nationally more than 50 million people were food insecure.
You can visit Food Bank of NELA website to donate or seek more information on upcoming food distribution. Check them out Facebook page for updates too.
Some of the upcoming distributions include:
- West Carroll Parish: Tuesday, March 2 at 10:00. Oak Grove Maintenance Warehouse – 400 Lamont St., Oak Grove
- Lincoln Parish – Wednesday, March 3 at 10:00 a.m. Ruston Sports Complex – 1501 S. Farmerville St., Ruston
- Caldwell Parish – Thursday, March 4 at 9:00 a.m. Caldwell Dixie Ball Park – 125 Ballpark Rd, Columbia.
- Jackson Parish – Friday, March 5 at 10:00 a.m. First Baptist Chatham – 1211 Hwy 4, Chatham.
- Franklin Parish – Tuesday, March 9 at 10:00. Liberty Christian Center 403 8th St., Winnsboro.
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