On May 23, 2019, food banks, community organizations, partner agencies, advocates and legislators from around Louisiana came together for Feeding Louisiana’s Anti-Hunger Advocacy Day at the Louisiana State Capitol. For the first time in five years, this day allowed attendees to hear from some of the champions in the fight against hunger while advocating for the food insecure in Louisiana.
“This is our opportunity to come together and celebrate our work, connect with the state legislature, talk about the work that’s taking place and elevate hunger and food insecurity as a significant issue that a lot of people are dealing with across the state,” said Korey Patty, Executive Director of Feeding Louisiana.
Feeding Louisiana and their five-member food banks, including the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, work together with a network of community and faith-based partners to provide more than 64 million meals annually to individuals and families in need. However, pushing back on the stigma and myths surrounding food insecurity are vital steps to improving the condition of the hungry in Louisiana.
“As most of you know, the amount of SNAP benefits a household receives depends on the number of people in the household and the net income,” said Alfreda Tillman Bester, Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. “But what you may not know, is that the SNAP program’s name leads with the word supplemental because we know that the amount of allowed benefits that we pay to households each month is not enough to meet the need.”
Feeding Louisiana had a budgetary request to the state legislature for $1 million that would go to purchasing food from Louisiana’s farmers to distribute to people in need. This request would have provided both local and nutritious food to Louisiana’s patrons and support to Louisiana’s farmers and growers.
“It is absolutely incredulous that in a state like Louisiana, which celebrates rich and varied food traditions that are famous, and we produce so much food that it is exported worldwide but there are so many people here without enough to eat,” said Mike Strain, Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
Unfortunately, the budgetary request was not approved, but the voice of our advocates was still heard. With the potential for a major turnover in the Louisiana legislature, our orange shirts were visible and our voices were loud. One setback will not stop our continued effort to advocate for the issue of food insecurity in our state.
“People should keep in mind that hunger and food insecurity aren’t issues that go away,” said Korey Patty, Executive Director of Feeding Louisiana. “They’re longstanding in the state and across communities and it’s going to take the work of our organizations, volunteers, businesses and policy makers to really make a dent in the issue.”