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The Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana is always looking for volunteers to help serve the community.
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Volunteers help sort and stack food in the warehouse. They also open mail and do other general office work and maintenance. Anyone interested in scheduling a day to volunteer should contact the Food Bank.
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A new program for the Food Bank and one with the most growth is called the Backpack program. Children at local schools that show signs of chronic hunger are given gallon sized baggies full of child-friendly food so that they have nutrition over the weekend.
The Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana is a non-profit organization that serves the seven parishes – Caddo, Claiborne, Bossier, Bienville, Desoto, Red River, and Webster – of Northwest Louisiana. Donating to the Food Bank or volunteering to help, supports the needy of our community.
In addition to local food drives, the Food Bank gets their food from several other sources. Grocery stores such as Walmart, Kroger’s, Target, Brookshires and Super One routinely donate. Sometimes they acquire food from other food banks across the country with inventory overages as well as the Louisiana Department of Agriculture Commodity program and Feeding America. Last year alone, they distributed over ten million dollars' worth of food.
Martha Marak, executive director of the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, says that they always need volunteers and they always need food. "We are a nonprofit organization and we provide food to churches and other nonprofit organizations that have a food component to their mission," Marak said. "We partner with about 120 other nonprofits that order food from us. Typically, our agencies are churches that open what's called a food pantry. A pantry is a vacant church office that has been converted into a mini-grocery store and people that need food can go and receive it free of charge. The other types of nonprofits that receive food from us are homeless shelters like the Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission, Providence House, and the Salvation Army."
The Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana has several programs and services they provide to the local community. The Summer Food Service program provides nutritional breakfasts and lunches to children who don't have access to free meals when school is not in session. The senior program provides a monthly box of pantry foods to over 1,500 low income seniors. The Food Bank also provides disaster relief. During the 2008 hurricane season, they distributed of 800,000 pounds of food, water and supplies to the victims.
One out of every five children in Northwest Louisiana (about 25,000) are food insecure, meaning their family doesn't have the components to put together a healthy meal, and the Food Bank has programs designed specifically for them, providing a hot meal at the end of the day.
A new program for the Food Bank and one with the most growth is called the Backpack program. Children at local schools that show signs of chronic hunger are given gallon sized baggies full of child-friendly food so that they have nutrition over the weekend. It is a program that works well in rural areas.
Volunteer help is something that is critical for the Food Bank. They wouldn't be able to survive without it. One of the ways that volunteers help is in the warehouse, sorting and stacking food. They also use volunteers to open mail as well as other general office work and maintenance. And of course, organizing your own food drive is another way to help. Anyone interested in scheduling a day to volunteer should contact the Food Bank.
"We need help, we need food and we'd love the community to come and support us and volunteer their time,” Marak said. “There's something very rewarding about giving back to the hungry and those that are less fortunate."
For more information visit, www.foodbanknla.org or call 318.675.2400.
By Matthew Pizzolato