For 35 years, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has been committed to feeding the hungry in Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes. In 1984, volunteers began distributing collected food items in the parking lot of Victoria Baptist Church. From the parking lot, the Food Bank moved into a small house, to a warehouse, to an even bigger warehouse. We are now currently operating out of current home at the Fraenkel Center, a 172,000 square-foot facility that was previously Fraenkel Furniture. Mr. Albert Fraenkel made it possible for us to acquire the Fraenkel Furniture Warehouse by donating his family’s share, valued at $2.2 million. We would not be functioning at our current capacity without Mr. Fraenkel’s donation.
The Food Bank currently serves 11 parishes through outreach programs and over 100 partner agencies. Our BackPack program helps fill the void for children who are at risk of missing meals over the weekend and during holidays when school is not in session. Additionally, our Adopt-A-Senior program provides a 40-pound box of nonperishable items to seniors to allow them to stretch their limited budgets to cover other expenses, like medicine and utility bills.
In 2019, over 11.2 million meals were distributed, 61,988 children were served and 9,718 volunteers helped us execute our mission. New programs were also created, like Cooking Matters, Pick a better snack™ and the Mobile Pantry program, to help us feed those in need in a new and exciting way. Our Cooking Matters program is a six-week course to inspire families to make healthy, affordable food choices. Our Pick a better snack program™ engages children in fun and informative lessons to influence children to choose fruits and vegetables as snacks at home. Our Mobile Pantry program brings our food services to areas with those who are not signed up to receive food from one of our agencies or do not have transportation to get to one of our agencies.
As part of our “from Hunger to Hope” Capital Campaign, Mr. Ron Zappe from Zapp’s Potato Chips planned to support the Food Bank with a donation of one of his bulk packaging machines. When Mr. Zappe passed away, his family honored his memory by donating funds to allow us to purchase our own bulk packaging machinery to best fit our needs. Additional funding was donated by the Charles Lamar Family Foundation. We placed this packaging machine into operation before the flood, however, it was lost in the high waters. In 2019, we were able to replace our bulk packaging machine and return it to operation. This innovative bulk packaging machine allows us to repackage bulk, dry food product into individual and family size servings to efficiently maximize every donor’s dollar.
“The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank continues to be guided by its mission to feed the hungry for as long as it takes until we are no longer needed and our mission is accomplished,” said Mike Manning, President and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. “With the help of our donors and our volunteers, we look toward a bright future feeding the hungry in our 11-parish service area.”