Once the pandemic hit, Elaine Simms found herself having to shut down her business. Not long after, she heartbreakingly lost her husband, significantly affecting her income. Once a cosmetologist, she is now providing support to fellow low-income community seniors. She sees the impact firsthand COVID-19 is having not only on herself, but also seniors in her area.

Elaine wakes up early in the mornings to get in line for food from the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank distributions in the Baton Rouge area. However, Elaine isn’t getting the food just for herself. Elaine goes house to house after receiving food from these distributions to see what her neighbors may need from a safe distance. Elaine does this in hopes of offsetting the cost of food for her community while limiting their number of trips to the store.

“Some of the older people have a real low income, so it takes the place of what they can’t go out and buy,” said Elaine. “The meats, the vegetables, the fruits, they need it for their health and wellbeing.”

Elaine shared with us that she sometimes takes seniors that are healthy and able with her to be sure they know the process if they ever have to have someone else bring them to a distribution. “That was my new job,” Elaine stated. “I was helping others, not getting paid but I was blessing them in my way.”

Julia Thomas, friend of Elaine for 52 years, is one of the seniors that has ridden along with her to learn the process. Julia is also a client of one of our member agencies, Jewel J. Newman Community Center in East Baton Rouge Parish. Once COVID-19 hit our community, Jewel J. Newman Community Center was forced to change their operations with new hours.

Now, Julia replicates Elaine’s process to help her community. When faced with the question of why she does what she does, Julia states, “I try to do what the Lord told me to do, to share and to be there for others.” Elaine and Julia work together to be sure the seniors and families in their community have what they need to fight hunger during this pandemic.

When asked how she has witnessed the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank help during the evolving COVID-19 situation, Julia Thomas expressed, “I think it is a blessing and an honor that this food is given to help people. We appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts and want to say thank you.”

If you would like to to donate to help clients like Elaine and Julia please click here. You can also contact the Food Bank at 225-359-9940 or info@brfoodbank.org. Remember $1 could help provide up to 3 meals to fight hunger.