Second Harvest Food Bank hosts food packing party

Volunteers gathered at the Second Harvest Food Bank on Thursday for an energetic “food packin’ party” that will provide over 10,000 food insecure citizens in Calcasieu Parish with an easy-to-cook, pre-packaged red beans and rice meal.

The altruistic feat is thanks to the continued partnership between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBSLA), Healthy Blue, Entergy Louisiana and Second Harvest Food Bank. As an extended celebration of Martin Luther King Day, a National Day of Service, the organizations have committed to distributing over 200,000 meals throughout the state, making stops in New Orleans, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Thibodaux, Houma and Shreveport.

Crystal Blanchard, regional director for Lafayette, Lake Charles and Houma, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, said that the food distribution effort addresses food insecurity in a way that directly aligns with the mission of BCBSLA – to improve the health and lives of everyone in Louisiana – and emulates the good works conducted by Martin Luther King Jr.

“We want to give back to the community just like he did.”

David Smith, Jr., development officer, Second Harvest Food Bank, Lake Charles, said that this food packing event is special in the way it honors Martin Luthur King Jr., a hero of communities throughout the country. He stated that he is thankful for the opportunity to continue the legacy of civil rights leaders, like MLK and Malcolm X, to bring about positive change “by any means necessary.”

“Dr. King was and is an individual who cared about the betterment of the entire community.”

One in seven people – over 30,000 individuals – in Calcasieu parish are at risk of missing a meal every other day, he said. This equates to 170 potential missed meals a year, a main qualifier to be labeled as food insecure.

The work done at the packing party directly mitigates this hunger. Volunteers gathered around four meal-packing stations and participated in a streamlined and stress-free packing process like an assembly line; Some scooped rice, beans and spices into the meal kits, while others vacuum-sealed them. The meal kits, containing every ingredient needed to make red beans and rice, were then packaged in boxes to be distributed to over 30 local food pantries.

Smith said he felt “gratitude beyond measure” for Second Harvest to be chosen to package and distribute the food.

“Organizations like Entergy, Blue Cross and Healthy Blue literally are choosing us to be the vehicle of impact, and we’re very grateful that we consistently get chosen.”

Entergy financially supported the endeavor. Lorena Ceasar, customer service manager, Entergy, said that the meal distribution is part of their mission to embrace the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, the second being “No Hunger.”

Entergy has committed to feeding 2.6 million individuals and providing 30,000 community service hours through volunteering by 2025.

Locals can help fight food hunger by sharing the mission of Second Harvest, volunteering, donating resources and supporting the organization financially.

For more information and ways to help, visit www.no-hunger.org.

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