BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards called a news conference to alert Louisiana citizens about a crisis impacting the food supply of hundreds of thousands of people across the state. Food banks are running critically low. The governor has issued a statewide call to action to address the issue.
“Demand is high. Supply is low,” Edwards said.
Volunteers at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are busy year round filling bags and distributing food and supplies to those in need. That location serves 11 parishes, where over 133,000 people and families are in need. The remaining items on the shelves of the food bank are hardly enough to carry them through the end of the year.
“Heading into the holidays with depleted shelves is a little unusual and quite frankly, unnerving,” Edwards said.
The governor was joined by leaders from food banks across the state who said their situation is the same, if not worse. According to state records, more than 783,000 people in Louisiana are uncertain of where their next meal will come from. One in four of them are children or senior citizens. President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana Natalie Jayroe says at a time when food banks around the state typically build up their reserves of food and funds, they’re worried they won’t have enough when the Christmas holidays come around. During those two weeks when schools are closed, children who count on lunch programs for a meal will have to get their nutrition somewhere else.
“We need to be producing twice the meals we are providing currently and that’s after families provide for themselves,” Jayroe said.
President and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank Mike Manning says the bare shelves are just part of the story. Funds are low too. “We cannot afford to hire more people. We can’t do it without food and we can’t do it without money,” he said.
Local community and church groups have been the heartbeat of food banks across the state. Leaders say they couldn’t go on without them. But now they need help too. That’s why the governor is asking every person who lives in Louisiana to do something to help meet their need.
“Helping one another is a Louisiana value and I’ve seen it. We all have. Louisiana shows up for their neighbors when they are in need and this is one of those times,” Edwards said.
Click here for more on how you can help.