Bayou Community Foundation and Second Harvest Bring Local Nonprofits Together to Develop Partnerships to Feed Lafourche and Terrebonne Residents in Need
Over 30,000 men, women and children in Lafourche, Terrebonne and Grand Isle – an alarming 15 percent of residents – lack consistent access to affordable, nutritious food on a daily basis, and the number of local residents, especially children, battling food insecurity continues to grow with inflation and homelessness. This grim statistic, along with current and potential solutions to the local hunger crisis, was the focus of discussion at the Bayou Region Hunger Summit October 12, 2023, at the Larose Civic Center.
Hosted by Bayou Community Foundation (BCF) and Second Harvest with funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, the summit included over 100 representatives of local food banks, nonprofit and government agencies, education and health care organizations, churches and civic groups. Facilitated by clinical social worker Heidi Irwin from the Office of Lafourche Parish District Attorney Kristine Russell, attendees discussed the ever-increasing need for affordable, fresh food in our Bayou Region, shared current efforts to address this food insecurity, and developed new partnerships to strengthen food distribution programs.
“Hunger is one of the largest and most critical needs in our region and, through our annual grants program, Bayou Community Foundation funds local food banks and pantries that are working to fill that need. But that is not enough,” said BCF Executive Director Jennifer Armand. “We must come together to develop new partnerships and strengthen collaborations to most effectively distribute food where and how people need it the most and to ultimately curb the cycle of hunger. Hosting the Hunger Summit is our first step, and we aim to continue this conversation through our new Working Group on Hunger.”
“We were proud to co-host the Bayou Region Hunger Summit with The Bayou Community Foundation,” said Second Harvest President and CEO Natalie Jayroe. “In partnership with local non-profits, last year we distributed nearly 5 million pounds of food through local food pantries, mobile pantries, and children’s feeding programs in the Bayou region. We also provide extensive disaster response in Lafourche, Terrebonne, and Grand Isle. This summit allowed nonprofits and community leaders to collaborate and share resources to help better the growing number of our neighbors who struggle with hunger. With the opening of our new Bayou Region Second Harvest warehouse this year, we are thrilled to double the capacity in the Bayou to provide our partner agencies with the resources they need to better serve our community.”
Summit participants identified several factors that contribute to food insecurity in our community, such as:
- Increased housing insecurity and homelessness
- Increased food prices
- Increased number of at-risk seniors
- Lack of transportation to access resources
- Lack of awareness about available food distribution resources
“I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with others to help bridge the food insecurity gap. Even after one meeting, we have addressed some important issues and I look forward to working together on more,” said Becky Gautreaux, Extension Agent for LSU AgCenter.
“The Hunger Summit was enlightening and humbling. It was interesting to hear other organizations confirm the staggering need that we see daily. It was also amazing to witness so many people in one room sharing a passion for fighting hunger in this region. Though times are tough right now, there is definitely hope for our region with some many people and organizations stepping up to help. BCF never disappoints!” said St. Francis Vegetable Garden Director Daisy Cheramie.
One of the critical action items developed at the Summit was the Working Group on Hunger, coordinated by Bayou Community Foundation, to help organizations learn about the services each provide, share resources, and better inform the community about food resources that are available. The first meeting of the Working Group on Hunger is anticipated for late November.
For more information, email Community Impact Officer Kati Callais at firstname.lastname@example.org