We were recently fortunate to have an intern from ULM at the Food Bank for the spring semester. Ali is a communications major, and will be graduating this May. We truly appreciate her hard work and enthusiasm. Here’s an article Ali wrote about her time here:
Ali Owens (Intern), and Kayt Noles (Programs Manager) at BINGO event
When I began my internship at the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana, I did not know much about the hunger issue in the area. I occasionally helped with the BackPack for Kids Program some at the elementary school where my mother works. When I worked at a news station, I wrote a few articles about past events held by the Food Bank. However, I never fully grasped how hunger affects individuals in this region. Early on, one of my tasks was to learn about hunger through training on the Feeding America website. The realization of how many people go hungry in our region slowly sank in as I saw how Northeast Louisiana and the surrounding area compared to the rest of the U.S. One of the most surprising things I realized was that this issue is barely talked about by people who do not work in hunger relief. Louisiana is a place known for food, especially gumbo, the official state food, which people created out of necessity with whatever they had available. In today’s time, people in that situation would be considered food insecure. It’s tragic to think that so many of the people living in Louisiana do not have consistent access to enough food to not only survive, but thrive.
A fact that sticks out in my head is that 14.3% of senior adults in Louisiana are food insecure — the highest rate in the nation. Senior adults are an especially vulnerable group for many reasons. As we age, our bodies change and become more susceptible to chronic health conditions. Food insecurity worsens these health conditions. For senior adults, chronic health conditions may prevent them from being able to work in their later years. However, an early retirement leaves seniors ineligible for certain federal assistance programs such as Medicare. 68% of senior households served by Feeding America agencies must choose between food and medicine. To help seniors who are on a very low fixed income, the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana offers senior boxes that contain 30 lb. of supplemental food each month. Volunteers come weekly to help pack these boxes with a wide variety of food. With a donation of $100, the Food Bank can provide a senior with a food box every month for a year.
My time at the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana taught me how important it is to actively learn about the issues your community faces and then do something about those issues. In the case of hunger in Northeast Louisiana, volunteers work daily packing backpack bags and senior boxes. Plenty of opportunities to help are available outside of the warehouse as well through events, donations, and food drives. I encourage my friends and family to volunteer anytime they can because so much good is accomplished for the community each time someone supports the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana.
Ali Elise Owens