The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank may bring to mind a nonprofit organization that provides food to charities helping families or others in need.
That is exactly what the Food Bank does on a daily basis, but that’s not the group’s only mission.
When a disaster strikes, Food Bank employees and volunteers become emergency responders who get food to those who may not need the services during other circumstances.
Hurricane Isaac hit south Louisiana on Aug. 29, creating havoc in the form of flooding and wind damage to metro Baton Rouge areas such as Livingston, Tangipahoa, Assumption and St. James parishes. Those areas are where most of the Food Bank’s supply has gone since the storm hit.
People who never dreamed of using the Food Bank were helped in their post-Isaac recovery through the group’s assistance. Those are people whose homes have been flooded or who don’t have the financial means to replace food they lost as a result of the storm.
“We have been nonstop in food delivery since the storm,” said Mike Manning, president and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
The national Feeding America Food Bank has provided food to local groups such as the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Manning said.
That food has been placed into disaster food boxes delivered to nonprofit organizations tasked with providing post-hurricane assistance.
The Food Bank’s nonprofit counterparts make up the Louisiana and Capital Area Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Manning said.
Much of that food has been delivered to Catholic Charities distribution points, he said.
The food deliveries include canned meats and peanut butter as well as fruits and vegetables, Manning said.
“MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are fine for the now. That’s good for the emergency, but food, real food, helps start the recovery mind-set in people,” he said.
The amount of food supplied so far by the Food Bank is staggering.
Since the storm hit through Thursday, the Food Bank has delivered 331,000 pounds of food to hurricane victims, Manning said.
On Thursday alone, the Food Bank delivered 85,000 pounds of food to various distribution points.
The food from the national food bank wasn’t enough to handle Hurricane Isaac needs, Manning said.
The inventory at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank warehouse on Choctaw Drive has been depleted and once the Isaac mission is over, Manning and his crew will have to return to their primary mission.
“When you are going though an emergency, you just have to think about the day-to-day. That’s all you can focus on,” Manning said.
He said he always has faith in the Baton Rouge metro community to replenish the bank with the food they need.
“We just have to trust that the community will help us. And they always do,” he said.
Once Isaac recovery is over, Manning said, his group can get back to a different disaster.
“The daily disaster of hunger in people’s lives,” he said.
To donate, go to http://www.brfoodbank.org or call (225) 359-9940.
Steven Ward is a general-assignment reporter at The Advocate. He can be reached at email@example.com or (225) 388-0303.