Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank needs your help to keep up with demand

GBR Food Bank in need of volunteers, donations to continue to serve those in needs

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has felt a great demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mike Manning, president and CEO of the GBR Food Bank, says they’ve been operating at disaster levels since March.

“We’re not used to doing it for such a long period of time,” Manning said. “We’re used to it for several weeks, but when you start talking months at a heightened pace with mobile distributions, it’s really been a testament to the staff as to what they’ve been able to accomplish.”

While the staff are the ones who keep the lights on and work to help secure donations to keep the shelves stocked, the volunteers are the heartbeat of the operation.

“We don’t survive without volunteers,” Manning said. “It’s that simple.”

The volunteers are the ones boxing up the supplies for them to be given out at one of the distribution events. Those events have seen lines that have stretched for blocks as the demand for food remains high.

“When we do distributions out here, people are lined up at 5 in the morning, some at 4, they’re sleeping in their cars waiting for us to start the line moving,” said Bus Culotta, one of the volunteers at the food bank.

Culotta is one of the volunteers who shows up every day and while the work is not particularly difficult, it’s critical to those who need it. That’s why he continues to show up.

“I know that I’m helping people. There’s good people in the world and I just enjoy that because I know there’s a lot of people that need help right now,” he said.

The food bank needs more people like Culotta as it continues to serve 11 parishes around the Baton Rouge area. It’s simple to volunteer, and those who want to sign up can do so at brfoodbank.org.

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