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Food bank serves residents after winter storm delays food delivery trucks



MONROE, La. – Hundreds of people who drove to the Monroe Civic Center on Monday received carloads of hope from a local food bank. The Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana distributed boxes of food and several people told KNOE it means a lot to have more food on the table after February’s harsh winter storms.

“There are a lot of people who really need this help,” said food bank Director of Development Sarah Hoffman.

Hoffman said deliveries to the food bank, consisting of two 18-wheelers filled with food, had to be canceled last week due to the storm. People who work there didn’t let that deter them from helping those in need, especially after seeing the current state of shelves at the grocery stores.

Charles Russell, a senior citizen, said he didn’t have to look far to see the storm’s devastating impact. He came out because his cabinets are nearly bare.

“It hurts, you know, when you’re poor and ain’t got much. But, it’s all God giving us a lot, so I’m thankful for what we got and thankful for what we can get.”

Folks at the food bank said they organized the event rather quickly. They brought more than 1,200 boxes of food to the Monroe Civic Center. Boxes were packed with things like sausage, fresh produce, milk and water.

“My parents are elderly and I take care of them and I got stuck away from them for five days because of that snow and ice,” said Michael Lewis. Riding in a Jerry Redfern’s red truck, Lewis told KNOE he hoped the long wait was worth it.

A Monroe woman was also among hundreds who waited in line for hours on Lea Joyner Memorial Expressway. With her roof leaking and no phone service at home, she filled her trunk, but not for herself.

“I really do it for my neighbor. They’ve got children and stuff and they don’t have transportation or nothing. So, I get it and help them. It’s one old lady across there, got her grandkids to take care of, and I basically give it to them,” explained Helen Caesar.

Organizers say, before the pandemic, more than 63,000 people in northeast Louisiana did not know where their next meal was coming from. They say that number has continued to grow with each disaster.

In addition to partnering with the City of Monroe, the city’s fire and police departments, city employees and even the National Guard helped distribute food.

“We rescheduled some distributions due to the winter storms, so next week, we’ll be in Ruston, Columbia and Oak Grove,” Hoffman said.