As I sit in spot #8 waiting for my groceries to magically appear into my trunk by a mystical service called “Grocery Pickup,” I can’t help but think about how blessed my family and I are. We were so fortunate to only have lost the food in our refrigerator and freezer, a couple of shingles and a few boards off our fence after the hurricanes last year.
I also sit here and think about those who were not so lucky in these disasters. The families who’s homes were destroyed, their belongings ripped from them so effortlessly by a powerful relentless storm. All this in the midst of a global pandemic that has resulted in a huge unemployment rate, unprecedented homelessness and food insecurity.
Be the Helper
In June, during this pandemic mess, I decided not to go back into teaching. Everything was up in the air about how the year was going to look for students and teachers a like! The drama of virtual vs. in person learning was enough to make anyone’s head spin. I figured that my life was already a mess and in a transition phase, I may as well do what I think is right for me and my son.
Instead, I landed a total dream job with Second Harvest Food Bank. Second Harvest is a non-profit that I’ve been cheering for and supporting since I moved to Lafayette in 2014. SHFB offers flexible hours, the ability to bring my son to my office if needed, and amazing benefits. The biggest plus us being part of a rock start team who are all superheroes in their own right!
I started in the thick of a pandemic and it was an absolute frenzy of learning my new role and jumping right into the game.
At that time, we were having mass food distributions at Cajun field in Lafayette and Zephyr field in New Orleans every week for COVID response. We did this on top of providing food and support to our 700+ community partners and programs across 23 parishes.
Then, Hurricane Laura and Delta hit Southwest Louisiana just when everyone at the food bank didn’t think they had anymore gas in the tank, we hit another gear! We teamed up with both the United Way of Southwest Louisiana and UW Acadiana, and both Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana and CCA to bring even more food and supplies into the affected parishes. There is no time to stop when in disaster mode!
While, the full impact of the effects of the Coronavirus is not yet known we do have preliminary data from Feeding America. This data shows that more than 50 million Americans could be facing hunger as a result of COVID-19. The data for Louisiana, and in particular Southwest Louisiana after the hurricanes would be interesting to research.
To put it in perspective, in 2019 food insecurity was the lowest it had been in 20 years. “Only” 35 million Americas were living food insecure. I used quotations because no one should have to live without knowing where their next meal is coming from, no one should have to choose between paying the bills or buying groceries, not one single person deserves to go hungry. Access to food is a basic human right, right? Right!
How can you get involved?
This is a question I get all the time. It’s a simple question and I have a simple answer: In any capacity you can.
Here are a few ideas ( in no particular order):
- Volunteer with our Food Bank, a local food pantry, St. Joesph Diner, or Catholic Charities of Acadiana
- Give a monetary donation, if you can.
- Gain understanding of the food banking world by listening to the Podcast “The Food Dignity Podcast.” Clancy Cash Harrison is a powerhouse of knowledge and has some of the most amazing guests! Even our own former Lafayette Mom Writer Yvette Quantz, a registered dietitian, speaker and entrepreneur at Foodspirations had a great interview talking about how to host a healthy food drive.
- Host a Food Drive. Food Drives are an important part of any food bank or pantry. Second Harvest Food Bank receives over 1 Million pounds of food each year from individuals and business who host food drives to support us.
- No idea is too small! The best story I heard was while listening to “The Food Dignity Podcast” was a woman who had been a balloon artist pre-covid but lost her job. She had asked Clancy if she could make balloons during a food distribution. At first, Clancy didn’t see how balloons and the food pantry went together. She soon understood that not only did her guests at the pantry leave with a trunk full of food but also a smile! The balloons were a big hit! The episode goes deeper than that so take a listen if you’d like: here.
To get involved you can email me at [email protected]
Please know that you will never be judged or made to feel shame at a food bank or food pantry. If you or someone you know needs food assistance reach out to 232-Help in the Acadiana area or dial 211 in other areas of Louisiana, find a pantry at Whyhunger.org No-hunger.org.