A man walks past St. Joseph Diner Friday, July 24, 2020, in Lafayette, La.

Drew and Brittany Brees’ hefty donation this year to Second Harvest Food Bank may pay off mightily this week in Acadiana, as storms threaten the Gulf Coast.

Ben Broussard, spokesman for Catholic Charities in Lafayette, said Monday that part of the $5 million contribution to New Orleans-based Second Harvest, partners locally with St. Joseph Diner, helped expand the kitchen here to increase its production sevenfold to serve the hungry in Acadiana.

Prior to the kitchen expansion, St. Joseph Diner prepared about 2,100 meals a week for distribution in Lafayette. Now it has the capacity to produce 15,000 to 20,000 meals a week, feeding people throughout Acadiana.

Broussard said the kitchen will likely close before the storm hits, then ramp up to serve both the local hungry and volunteers who fan out into the region to help those affected by tropical storms Marcos and Laura, the former of which was downgraded Monday. Laura threatens to become a more significant storm that may affect Acadiana as it moves west toward Texas.

“That speaks to the beauty of the investment in the diner,” Broussard said Monday. “We never would have been able to do that before.”

He said Second Harvest and the diner, an agency connected to Catholic Charities, “are poised to be a better resource in disaster recovery because of the investment.”

Broussard said that Catholic Charities on Monday was pre-registering volunteers who will be needed to muck out houses after the storm as well as volunteers for tarp and chainsaw crews.

“Disaster relief is our biggest concern,” Broussard said. “Those in poverty have the hardest time recovering from the storms. They are affected at a disproportionate level.”

Broussard said that Catholic Charities will work with Lafayette Consolidated Government, the United Way of Acadiana and other churches and social organizations.

The charitable organization will also work with United Way of Acadiana as part of VOAD — Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

“Generally speaking, after a disaster happens, people see the magnitude,” Broussard said. That’s when volunteering will pick up.

A spokeswoman for United Way of Acadiana was not available Monday.

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