Our thoughts and prayers are with our community during this national emergency. Please scroll down for a full update on our response.
Here are some ways you can help. For all suggested donations listed below, you can drop them off at our Elmwood-area facility at 700 Edwards Avenue, or at 215 E. Pinhook Rd in Lafayette.
How you can help
Monetary donations: We are seeing major major impacts to seniors, children, and low-income workers in our service industry. Click HERE to make a secure online monetary donation to help support our emergency response and readiness.
Food: As always, we welcome donation of fresh produce and non-perishable food items Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at our Elmwood and Lafayette locations listed above.
Cleaning/sanitation supplies: We are also asking for donations of cleaning supplies, soap, and hand sanitizer. We also welcome this type of donation year-round to help us prepare for the next emergency.
Volunteer: It’s very important to get pre-registered in our system as a volunteer, so that we can call on you or your organization as the need arises. Go to no-hunger.org/volunteer to sign up to be a volunteer, both during this response and year-round.
We are a member of the United Way, and their 211 information system has our latest information about finding the Second Harvest food pantry nearest you. If you’re in the New Orleans / Northshore / Bayou / Lake Charles regions, dial 211 for assistance. In Acadiana, dial 337-232-HELP.
Other questions: For anything not covered here, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Need: COVID-19 Disaster Response
Second Harvest is providing disaster relief in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic currently affecting the United States and South Louisiana. We are focused on identifying those in need and providing food to them, particularly as our region faces this unprecedented event.
Based on available knowledge of the virus, as well as current federal, state, and local responses, Second Harvest is already responding to an increased need for food at many of our distribution partners as families are out of work, children are out of school, seniors lose access to their already limited means of attaining food and supplies, and quarantined families cannot access grocery stores. The impacts of social distancing, event cancellations, restaurant closures, and school and work shutdowns will have far-reaching repercussions that will extend beyond the length of the viral epidemic. Second Harvest knows demand will remain high at pantries as individuals recover financially for months to come.
We are ramping up our response for seniors, as they are particularly vulnerable to both hunger and the virus and are isolated in their homes. Many senior centers have closed and their meal services have been disrupted. Additionally, as schools are now closed and so many of our children rely on school meals, we will provide meals to children who cannot make it to centralized school locations to pick up food. And lastly, as so many individuals working in the service industry have their livelihoods threatened, there is an increased need at our food pantries, and we will need to provide more food to those partners.
Due to this increase in need, we need additional funding. These additional funds will purchase food, cleaning supplies, packing supplies, transportation, and salaries to cover the overtime expenses for our existing staff members and to hire temporary drivers to make these deliveries.
You can help the seniors who are most impacted by the virus:
Second Harvest serves vulnerable seniors who are regularly faced with choosing between food and other basic needs, like medicine, housing, or utilities. During the current COVID-19 response, low-income families, especially seniors, do not have access to disposable income to stock-up on food items. Seniors are also more vulnerable to the virus, are isolated in their homes, and may be missing out on the meals and camaraderie they have at senior centers. Within two days of declaring a state-wide emergency, Second Harvest has identified over 1,200 seniors to support through meal delivery. Our response includes preparing these meals in our Community Kitchen and delivering them to homebound seniors and drop-off locations. On March 16th, we began providing 600 prepared meals daily to seniors, and we expect that number to continue to increase to more than 1,000 meals per day. Beginning on March 23rd, we will begin providing 250 meals each day to the Council on Aging in Calcasieu Parish. We are coordinating our response with additional senior housing locations, and we anticipate our response to grow to include the distribution of additional food boxes and frozen meals.
You can help provide meals to children who are out of school
In collaboration with parish district leaders, Second Harvest is identifying how to support a contingency feeding plan in the wake of school closures. In many areas, local school districts are providing grab-and-go meals at school locations, and we are promoting the availability of these meals through our food pantry partners. Beginning on Tuesday, March 17, we are partnering with the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) to disseminate 550 meals daily across 11 centers (Joe Brown Park, Lyons Center, Behrman Center, Stallings Center, St Claude Center, Rosenwald Center, Milne Center, Sanchez Center, Gernon Brown, Cut Off, & Treme). We anticipate this number will increase to 1,200 meals daily over the next weeks. Other parishes have not yet implemented plans to feed school children while schools are closed, and we are finding ways to meet the gap. For example, we are starting a meal distribution site at the Kenner Food Bank and on March 23, we will begin distributing 500 meals daily to children in Jefferson Davis Parish. As we cooperate with districts on their contingency plans, we anticipate the number of meals disseminated to increase across our 23 parish service area.
You can help hospitality and service industry workers
We are referring affected individuals to local food pantries. We need your financial support to ensure that their shelves remain stocked. We are in communication with the Louisiana Restaurant Association and other service industry associations about the most effective ways to coordinate our assistance to people who are losing their jobs. We are working to set up three distribution sites in Algiers and the 7th Ward, in partnership with New Orleans Parish Council Member Kristin Palmer in the coming days.
Why we need your help now, more than ever
This is truly an unprecedented disaster for our community, but also the rest of the world. Unlike other disasters, like a local hurricane or flood, this is happening everywhere. We won’t be able to rely on resources from other food banks or national donors. We know resources will be even more limited, as every community across the country experiences an overwhelming increase in need.
We know that food donations are going to be overstretched, and we will have to rely on purchased food to help those in need. Our costs will increase. Retail store donations, which regularly make up 30% of Second Harvest’s 32 million meals distributed every year, are being interrupted. They are currently overwhelmed by the demand and we are seeing donations decrease. Our biggest source of donated food is the USDA commodity program. However, this program comes with many bureaucratic restrictions, and the federal emergency declaration has not yet loosened these requirements. We are working with Feeding America and other advocates to make this source of food more flexible. There is an opportunity to source more donations from restaurant and casino operators as they decrease or cease their business hours. However, this will increase operating costs as it will require more staff time to coordinate the food donors with volunteers who pick up the food.
There are many areas where we anticipate our costs or staff time increasing during our disaster response. Corporate volunteers are cancelling their group shifts at the food bank, and while we continue to welcome volunteers at the food bank, we have reduced the group size to promote social distancing and other public health guidelines. As of March 16, we have had 28 groups cancel their shifts – the equivalent of approximately 2,500 volunteer hours. We anticipate our transportation costs increasing as we may have to hire temporary drivers or pay overtime to our current drivers and warehouse staff. And while not widespread, we’ve heard from some of our partner food pantries that they are shutting down their operations because they are concerned about exposing their volunteers, who are mainly seniors, to the virus. This will require additional efforts to ensure the need is met in their communities.
We are exploring the best delivery methods to safely receive and distribute food donations to our community. We need to bring in additional volunteers to help us handle food drives, and are spending additional fund to protect their safety. We have increased our already top-of-line safety protocols to provide additional safeguards.
Thank you for your consideration
Thank you for helping those most affected by the pandemic and its short and long-term economic impacts. We are grateful that all of our donors trust Second Harvest as experts to serve those who are most impacted in times of disaster.