Demand for food assistance remains high at Louisiana’s food banks

Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 1:21pm

According to the Louisiana Food Bank Association, demand for emergency food assistance statewide remains high while food and financial resources for the state’s five food banks are dwindling.

Louisiana’s food banks fear the demand for emergency food assistance will increase as families and communities feel the impact of sequestration cuts to Federal programs such as WIC and senior feeding programs.

“Sequestration cuts are expected to have devastating consequences for children, seniors and families who struggle with hunger, with 9,900 Louisiana women and children at risk for losing their WIC assistance” says Cindy Greenstein, executive director of the Louisiana Food Bank Association. “Every day, Louisiana families face the difficult choice between putting food on the table or paying for necessities such as the rent or mortgage, utilities or health care.”

One in seven Louisianans rely on their food bank when they need access to food. Food insecurity in Louisiana affects 16.7 percent of the state’s population, including 23 percent of all children under the age of 18.

Each year, Louisiana’s five food banks distribute more than 50 million pounds of food (nearly 42 million meals) to 609,000 individuals including more than 253,000 children. The state’s food banks provide food in every parish in Louisiana through a network of more than 400 faith-based and nonprofit organizations such as food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens located in local neighborhoods and communities.

In 2012, up to 40 percent of food pantries and soup kitchens in Louisiana reported they had to turn away individuals in need because they did not have enough food on their shelves. Sequestration cuts to TEFAP (the Emergency Food Assistance Program) will further hamper the ability of food banks to get food to hungry people.

“Cuts to TEFAP will reduce funding to food banks to store and distribute food at a time of increased demand and tightened resources,” adds Greenstein. “These cuts coupled with a decline in corporate food donations make it increasingly difficult for Louisiana food banks to keep up with the growing demand for emergency food assistance.”

The Louisiana Food Bank Association is asking Louisianans to help fight hunger in our state by donating to their local food banks. Louisianans can donate to food banks directly, through food drives, or by giving a tax deductible contribution on line 41 on your state income tax form.

“As we have seen over the past seven years, economic, natural and environmental disasters in Louisiana and across the country can affect anyone,” adds Greenstein. “Food banks in Louisiana are there to serve when needed most, providing much needed resources to help stretch the family budget and ensure children and seniors are receiving adequate nutrition.”

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