The Northeast Louisiana Food Bank is experiencing an 11 million meal short fall, and that need for food donations also trickles down to groups like churches that rely on the food bank.
The food bank reaches 39,000 people, and 40 percent of that are children. The bank needs 5 million pounds of food to meet the needs of families across the area, and agencies who give to these families are also feeling the punch as well.
"When you look at all the people that fall through these existing food programs that don't get adequate food, then they end up at the church food pantry, knocking on the door looking for food," said Richard King, the NELA Food Bank director.
Those doors include Assembly South, but even they rely on the food bank, too.
"Anytime the food bank has a shortage, we run a shortage on what we're able to give to the people," said Stewart Robinette, the church pastor.
He runs the church in South Monroe, which distributes food once a month right out of their doors.
"We're really operating by faith," he said. "Our food pallets are pretty empty."
In the two hour window of distributing food, they give out 14,000 to 16,000 pounds of food.
During last holiday season, the church helped about 300 families in one month. In the latest distribution, nearly 400 families came out to receive food.
"That number is going to increase," said Stewart.
With the approaching holiday season, he knows agencies and the food bank will need all the help they can get.
"Most of the time, that's when people are thinking about charity and helping people and the less fortunate," Stewart said. "But that need is 12 months out of the year."
There are over 80 agencies across 12 parishes depending on the food bank, including soup kitchens and shelters.
King says he still has faith in the community. He hopes to have an additional 5,000 pounds of food for the holiday season.
"Even though we struggle every day in finding enough food to feed the people, in the end, every year somehow we just manage to pull it out," he said.
If you would like you help, you can donate dry goods to the NELA Food Bank on 4600 Central Avenue in Monroe or call them at 318-322-3567.
You can also mail a donation to:
The Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana
P.O. Box 5048
Monroe, Louisiana 71211-5048
Or donate online by clicking here.
You can contact the Assembly South church to help with donations or volunteering at 318-387-1500.