Thousands impacted by oil and gas industry downturn

As the price of oil and natural gas remains at historic lows, many Louisiana residents unexpectedly find themselves in need of the services of Second Harvest Food Bank.

Rayne resident Rex Simmons is one of those unemployed workers struggling to make ends meet. He’s been looking for work for more than 10 months.

“I was a wireline engineer for more than 30 years,” he told us. “I’ve never seen it this bad for this long.”

Rex now lives in an old borrowed RV on the lot of a friend’s auto-repair shop. After months of fruitless job searching, Rex contacted Second Harvest to request assistance in getting food. His voice cracked as he told us how he never imagined he could be in this situation. “It was hard. I know so many people in the same bind. I’ve worked my whole life…and now, I’ve had some interviews, but everyone’s on a hiring freeze until things get better.”

Second Harvest Client Services Manager Melanie McGuire says more and more oilfield workers like Mr. Simmons are finding themselves in desperate straits, as the industry faces its worst downturn in more than 45 years.

“These are proud, hard-working people who never thought they would ever have to reach out to a food bank or apply for SNAP (food stamp) benefits,” she said. “Many are emotional and don’t know what to expect when they contact us for the first time. It’s our mission to let them know we’re here for everyone, and completely understand what they’re going through.”

If you know of someone in South Louisiana who needs food assistance, please call 1-855-392-9338.

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