Franklin Parish has a population of just over 20,000, and 21% of the people there are food insecure. Thankfully, Food Bank partner agency Fresh Start Ministries is there to provide food and other support to those in need.
Situated just off Highway 425 in Winnsboro at River of Life Church, the Fresh Start food pantry has been feeding people since 2000. [Read more…]
We appreciate each person who generously gives so that we can feed our neighbors who face hunger. Angie O’Pry Blades is a local business owner who goes above and beyond in her support of the Food Bank. We sat down with Angie to learn more about her and the ways she gives.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family:
I moved to Monroe with my family when I was in junior high. I graduated from St. Frederick High School and NLU (ULM) with a degree in Home Economics. That led me to a career as owner of Fiesta Nutrition Center in Monroe (retail natural foods, vitamin supplements, and café) for the past 41 years. My husband, Jerry Blades, Jr., is employed at Century Link in Monroe as a systems engineer. We live near the ULM campus and enjoy activities at the University, gardening, cooking, fishing, and being with family.
How long have you been a Food Bank supporter?
My store and I have been a supporter for the past several years. I really became interested on the recommendation of my parents who have been supporters and felt very good about the management and far-reaching service of the Food Bank.
In what ways do you choose to support the Food Bank?
Fiesta Nutrition has made monetary donations and donations of food products that are a fit for the focus of the Food Bank. Recently we were able to donate used freezer equipment to satellite food pantries in the coverage area. We can also offer donations of foods for people with special dietary needs (gluten-free, for example) that cannot afford them.
On a personal level, I am on the committee for the EMPTY BOWLS fundraiser event held each January. My café participates with other local restaurants and artists to raise funds as well as being a monetary title sponsor.
Why do you choose to support your community through the Food Bank of NELA?
I have always been impressed with the professionalism of the staff as good money managers, with the critical responsibility of transparency within the organization. The staff makes great use of social media to promote clever events to make the warehouse volunteer tasks easy and fun. They are able to garner support from the whole community to offer time to volunteer to make it all happen. It takes much to INSPIRE people to volunteer, and they do a good job of it. This goes a long way in keeping operating costs down. The template they use for management mirrors a successful business and that’s how this organization will thrive for helping future generations.
What do you wish other people knew about the Food Bank?
If you want to see more information and ratings of charities from a third-party, check out the website:
www.charitynavigator.com. The Food Bank’s reputation is obvious with its excellent ratings.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about supporting the Food Bank?
Many of the people being helped never dreamed that they would not know where their next meal would come from. Life happens. In the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if the drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of the missing drop.”
To become a supporter of the Food Bank’s hunger relief programs, call 318-322-3567 or click here to donate online.
Palmer and Kim Allen have been volunteering at the Food Bank for almost a year, and have already done so much to help fight hunger in our community. We recently talked with this dynamic couple to find out more about them and why they’re passionate about volunteering:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and family:
We moved to West Monroe about 10 years ago from Northwest Arkansas. Palmer is in federal law enforcement and his work is what brought us to this area. We have two children, Henry and Sam, ages 8 and 6. Kim is self employed as a General Appraiser focusing mostly on commercial real estate projects.
What motivated you to volunteer with the Food Bank?
We have become more involved with our church and our Christian faith and were looking for places where we might be able to get plugged in and make a difference in our local community. We had heard ads on the radio regarding the Food Bank of NELA and had previously donated a few times with them, so we reached out, and they found a spot for us to help immediately.
What makes this volunteer experience a meaningful use of your time?
We volunteer in both the Backpack program, delivering food to children in need at local schools as well as delivering Senior Boxes to the elderly in our community that are unable to get out and pick up their boxes on their own. Knowing that we are hopefully helping people, young and old, that might not otherwise be able to help themselves is a very rewarding and meaningful use of our time and energy. You get so bogged down in the tasks of every day, it’s easy to focus on yourself sometimes, but helping people is what we’re called to do. We really enjoy it.
What has surprised you most about working with the Food Bank?
The biggest surprises to us are how many communities the Food Bank reaches out to, how many programs there are, and how impoverished some places are right here in our own area.
What do you wish other people knew about the Food Bank?
I wish more people knew that when you volunteer with or donate to the Food Bank of NELA, you’re helping people right here in your own community. Also, there are so many volunteers that come together to make the food bank a success.
What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about hunger?
We wish there were no hungry kids or hungry people of any age for that matter. But unfortunately there are. We just want to help where we can and do what we can do.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering with the Food Bank?
You definitely should. They are always looking for hands to help, and it is a very rewarding opportunity. The Food Bank needs physical help, but they also need monetary donations to keep them running. Whether it is through volunteer time or through a small financial investment to fight hunger, I believe that those donations will be blessed and multiplied to truly make a difference in the lives of those in our area.
If you would like to sign up to volunteer at the Food Bank, please fill out our Volunteer Application and someone will contact you.
Bernice is a small town north of Ruston with a population of about 1,700. With almost 40% of the population there living in poverty, the need for food assistance is great. One of our community partners in Bernice is Christ Association Union. A group of caring individuals from the New Hopewell Baptist Church had been providing meals for shut-ins and special holiday meals for those in need, when four years ago, they decided to partner with the Food Bank of NELA to start offering a monthly grocery distribution.
Alma and Rhodell Montgomery along with Charlie Smith are the faces behind this wonderful pantry. All have retired from various careers and now lead a life of service to others. When they first started their food pantry, they served about 70 families. Now they say they provide food to about 180 families every month.
“We see a lot of children really in need,” said Alma, “it (the food pantry) really makes a big difference in our community.” Rhodell agreed and talked to us about many of the elderly in the community who just aren’t able to afford the nutritious meals they need.
According to Charlie, most people in Bernice know each other, but they may not realize the neighbors they see every day may be privately struggling to get enough to eat. “We’re here to help,” said Charlie. “My biggest enjoyment is when people come in to get a food bag and say ‘Oh thank you!’.”
We would like to thank you, our donors, for helping us provide the much needed food to programs like New Hopewell Baptist Church food pantry. A gift of just $10 will provide 55 meals to people in need. Together, we can ensure that no one in Northeast Louisiana goes hungry!