One in five households in Louisiana is at risk of hunger. Across our state and region, the rising cost of food, housing, and utilities, coupled with high unemployment and low-wage jobs have increased the need for emergency food assistance. Many families are asking for help for the first time. When bills loom and impossible decisions must be made, grocery lists are often cut first. Meals are skipped. Parents go without to make sure their children are fed.
Second Harvest Food Bank leads the fight against hunger in South Louisiana by providing food access, advocacy, education, and disaster response. Second Harvest provides food and support to 700+ community partners and programs across 23 parishes. Our staff and volunteers distribute the equivalent of more than 32 million meals to 210,000+ people a year.
Through our food distribution programs, community kitchen meal service, nutrition education, and public benefits assistance, we are helping to create pathways out of poverty. Every year, Second Harvest secures millions of pounds of food that otherwise would have gone to waste. Our work helps ensure that these meals make it to the dinner tables of thousands of families struggling with hunger in South Louisiana.
I am hoping this is just a temporary situation. I am looking for a safe place for me and my children to live, but it is hard while working full-time. It’s hard in the summer when the kids are not in school. I often go without so my children don’t have to. I rely on the food bank to help my family make ends meet.
—Rosa, SNAP participant
Second Harvest is about leadership, service and making a difference in the lives of those who are most in need, which in turn makes a difference in the lives of those who volunteer.
—Brittany, age 17
Second Harvest of Greater New Orleans was founded in 1982 by Archbishop Philip M. Hannan, Bishop Roger P. Morin, and Gregory Ben Johnson, Director of the Social Apostolate of the Archdiocese. By July 1983 the food bank was distributing food to 23 faith-based and nonprofit member agencies.
On September 13, 1985, Second Harvest Food Bank became a fully accredited member of America’s Second Harvest – The Nation’s Food Bank Network, allowing it to receive large donations from all over the country. A merger in 1989 with The Food Bank for Emergencies of Greater New Orleans, Inc. led to the addition of the emergency food box program to the food bank’s efforts to reclaim food that was going to waste. As it grew, the organization went through several name changes, finally becoming Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana in 2004.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Second Harvest’s service area, followed by Hurricane Rita on September 24. More than a million people were displaced from their homes and hundreds of thousands of people found themselves in need of emergency assistance, often for the first time. Forced out of its facility in New Orleans, the staff of Second Harvest regrouped in Baton Rouge within 48 hours of Katrina’s landfall, despite the fact that many of the staff had lost their own homes and others were unaware of the fate of their friends and family members.
By September 2005, Second Harvest became the largest food bank in the world’s history, with the help of America’s Second Harvest, now Feeding America, and skilled food bank volunteers from all over the country. Operating initially from a closed Wal-Mart in Baker, LA, then returning to its facility in New Orleans and opening a second facility in Lafayette in 2006, Second Harvest distributed more than 75 million pounds of food over the next two years.