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|Director: Food bank distributions set record|
Northeast Louisiana Food Bank is on pace this year to set a record in the amount of food distributed in the region.
With just two more months left in 2009, the food bank is expected to end the year with a total of 3.6 million pounds of food distributed throughout northeastern Louisiana.
Food bank executive director Richard King said the 2009 distribution figure will surpass last year's record of 3.4 million pounds of food.
Last year at this time, King told The Ouachita Citizen that he expected to see more people in need of the food bank's services due to the downturn in the national economy.
As 2009 winds down, King's prediction has come true.
One of the biggest concerns King has at this time is where the food bank will be this time next year in light of funding cuts by the Legislature during the last legislative session.
"We're not in a bad position right now," King said of his inventory. "But my concern is what will happen next year. We got a 90 percent cut from the state and that will amount to a loss of about one million pounds of food. That impact has not hit yet, but it will hit."
He said many food banks around the United States are struggling with depleted inventories during a time when more and more people are in need of their services.
"What will happen next year when our inventory is down," King said.
Regardless of that obstacle, King remains positive. He said food bank officials will continue to lobby the state to restore funding to the food banks throughout Louisiana.
"We have got to get that funding back," King said. "I feel confident we will get it back. We won't stop working till we get it back, that's for sure."
The food bank typically has plenty of food during the holiday season to distribute because this time of year is considered the "giving season" and more people want to help others, King said.
During the holiday season, more organizations, churches and groups work to address hunger needs throughout the region. That allows the food bank to distribute several hundred thousand pounds of food during November and December.
"This time of the year people are in a giving mood and everyone wants to help out, but it's not always that way during the rest of the year," he said.
People who rely on the food bank's services will still have this need when the holiday season ends, King said.
"Hungry people eat all year round," he said.
The city of Monroe recently held a successful food drive, King said. While food bank officials haven't tallied the inventory generated by the city's food drive, he said city officials were bringing in food Monday at a steady clip.
"We have a lot of spontaneous food drives going on right now because people are motivated to give during this time of the year," King said. "So, you get a lot of help now that you don't normally get during the rest of the year.
He said the food bank relies mostly on donations from people throughout Louisiana and the nation as well.
King reflected upon an elderly woman in Bastrop who sends the food bank a dollar almost every week.
Last week, she sent a check for $17.
"I can promise you that $17 was a significant amount of money and income for her," King said. "For her to do that, it's really special."
"No gift is insignificant," he added.
King encouraged people to drop off food at the food bank during any time of the year. The food bank is located at 4600 Central Avenue in Monroe. Businesses also are encouraged to host their own food drive. People can also make a financial donation to the food bank.
Money given to the food bank is used to purchase food to give to people in northeast Louisiana.
The food bank is the last resort for people who are without resources. It distributes more than three million pounds of food annually through 90 charitable agencies in northeastern Louisiana.
For more information about the food bank, or to donate, call 322-3567.