As food pantries in the area seek food donations to feed the needy, a way to help keep them stocked is taking hold.
Businesses and community organizations are taking part by filling green bags with nonperishable goods that help fill the gaps at area food pantries. Jessica Lewis, executive director of the Joe LeBlanc Food Pantry – a recipient of the Minden Food Project – says it has helped her fill the needs of the families which receive assistance from them.
“It’s a collaborative effort,” she said. “Living Word came to me and said they wanted to start the green bag project. There’s different hubs. Living Word is a hub, Joe LeBlanc is a hub, and we go out and find people who are willing to take five or six bags, go to their neighbors and say, ‘Hey, will you fill this bag and we’ll come back and pick it up and leave you another empty one every two months.’ This is only nonperishables in these bags.”
On its maiden tryout in June, they were able to collect over 800 pounds of food, Lewis says. The food was collected, taken to the Forestry Building at the Fairgrounds, and sorted by Youth Challenge Program cadets for distribution. Lewis says about 400 pounds of that food was donated by Harper Motors.
Harper Motors employees gave a financial donation, matched by the company, and they purchased food with that money, she says.
The 800 pounds of food was divided between them and Shiloh Ministries.
“This will be our second month, and I know it’s gotten a lot bigger since our first month,” Lewis said.
Rhema Douglas, who works for the Minden Food Project, says it’s a donor drive, not a food drive.
“Instead of asking for one-time contributions of food, our volunteers (neighborhood coordinators) enlist their neighbors to become long-term donors,” she said in an email to the Press-Herald.
The Minden Food Project gave thanks to Shiloh Community Services, Harper Motors, Living Word, JLFP, First United Pentecostal Church of Minden, Jeanne Martin State Farm, First United Pentecostal Church of Cotton Valley and Gibsland Bank and Trust for partnering with the program.
They are looking for as many community-minded residents and businesses willing to sponsor the green bags.
“We are asking people to buy one extra non-perishable item each time they go grocery shopping,” Joanetta Beacham, organizer, said. “Our slogan is, ‘You want to help. We want to make it easy.’”
According to a news release, the Minden Food Project will build on the success of the Ashland Food Project started in 2009. Today, the food donors collectively contribute more than 100,000 pounds of food per year, fulfilling about 40 percent of the Ashland Emergency Food Bank’s annual needs, Beacham says.
“Minden can do even better,” she said. “Our system is based on the notion that many people want to help their hungry neighbors, but are not sure how to do it. So we’ve made it easy on everyone.”
The next pick up will be August 8, at United Way, located at 202 Miller Street in Minden.
For more information, or to volunteer, contact the Minden Food Project at 318-840-6204 or email RDouglas.firstname.lastname@example.org.