Jan Risher

Jan Risher

Some of my friends have an over-the-top supper club. Thankfully, they invite me on occasion. Two weeks ago, one of them hosted a themed summer picnic supper club. My husband and I were lucky enough to be included. As backyard gardeners, my friends had grown most of the items they served. Eight of us sat around a candlelit table and appreciated the sights, smells and taste of the food and drink — and the enjoyable company of each other.

The food was a series of small,  wonderful courses — fresh mojitos, deviled eggs, shrimp nachos, crab Sardou, foie gras mini slider, chili lime watermelon, barbecue beef rib, smoked pork sausage, Mexican street corn, flan de crème with blackberries. All that deliciousness was another reminder of those in our communities who are hungry.

This is the fifth year that I’ve volunteered to work with FoodNet Food Bank during the donation-slowdown of summer.

“Basically, with kids being out of school, we see an influx of families. We need to keep our pantry full to keep kids’ bellies full through the summer,” said Emily Hamner, president of the FoodNet board.

Hunger is a real thing in Acadiana. According to the USDA, one in six Louisiana households struggles to put food on the table. One in 20 households in Louisiana reports skipping meals because they don't have enough money for food. In Louisiana, 23 percent of seniors — that’s nearly one in four, face the threat of hunger. FoodNet’s "Hunger Doesn't Get a Vacation" 100-Item Food Challenge has brought in more than 15 tons of food during the last four summers.

FoodNet Food Bank and I are challenging your family, your church, your service or social club, your book club, your office, your Bible study, yoga class, scout group, workout buddy or any other type of group up to the task of taking the challenge to donate 100 food items between now and Aug. 31 to help meet our 5-ton goal.

Acadiana can make this happen, but it is never easy. We need individuals who are driven to encourage those around them to make it happen. People are usually happy to help, but they need someone to be that person to say, “Hey, let’s do this.” If you’re reading this, chances are high that you are the one who is supposed to be that person.

FoodNet will accept any food items in any quantity, but to qualify for the 100-iten challenge, we ask that you bring 10 cans of tuna, 10 jars of peanut butter, 10 bags of dry beans, 10 cans of canned meat, 10 cans of vegetables, 10 cans of chili, 10 cans of soup, 10 bags or boxes of pasta, 10 cans of tomato sauce and 10 boxes of cornbread mix.

I’ve kept up with what I’ve spent in purchasing the 100 items for the last three summers. I try to be a thrifty shopper, but if my experience is an indicator, food prices appear to be on the rise. In 2017, I spent $131.83 to buy the 100 items on the list. In 2018, I spent $149.56. This year, my total came to $177.95 — that’s a significant increase and all the more evidence that FoodNet needs our help.

As in years’ past, I challenge you to go shopping with your children or challenge your cousins or friends to put together 100 items to donate to FoodNet. Children grow when they realize the plenty of their lives — and the way individuals and their families can help fill in the gaps where others have need. If possible, please send me a photo of your group and the food you’ve gathered to this email address here.

Drop off your 100-items at any of the following supermarkets: Adrien's Supermarket; Super 1 Foods on Ambassador, Willow Street, Carencro, Scott and Youngsville; Whole Foods Market and Champagne's Supermarket in the Oil Center.

If you’d prefer to take your items directly to FoodNet, do so between 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. The FoodNet Food Bank warehouse is at 217 Surrey St. in Lafayette. To schedule another time to drop off food, call (337) 232-3663.

To learn more about FoodNet Food Bank, go to www.foodnetlafayette.org.