Meet Lisa Sparks, a client of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank’s Mobile Pantry Program in Pierre Part, Louisiana. Lisa had never received assistance from the Food Bank or other government programs before the pandemic. Still, she and her family were forced to make some tough choices as the virus affected her household.

“At first I was embarrassed, but then I realized everyone is like this right now, not just us,” expressed Lisa Sparks. With Lisa unable to work due to a disability and her husband having lost his job as a pipe fitter during the pandemic, she and her husband were forced to start receiving SNAP benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps. “I never would have expected something like this to happen to us.”

Lisa was unsure at first about applying for SNAP benefits. She and her husband had some savings but were using that money quickly with little to no income. To add to the stress of paying bills, Lisa and her husband are currently taking care of their 7-year-old granddaughter. “I am 57 years old taking care of a 7-year-old. The stress level is way up, but I wouldn’t put her living with anyone else,” said Lisa. “That’s our granddaughter, we’re going to give her a place to live.”

Lisa says the items she receives at the Mobile Pantry are a great way to make a dinner for multiple people on a tight budget. “The spaghetti sauce can be used in so many ways,” Lisa stated. “My family loves it and I love it, everybody loves a good spaghetti!” Additionally, Lisa is able to get fresh fruits and vegetables with her SNAP benefits.

“Now it doesn’t really bother me to go to the store and slide that card or wait in that long line at your distributions because it really continues to help out while we get back on our feet,” Lisa stated.

With seniors facing high food insecurity rates and Louisiana ranking the highest in the nation for child hunger, the pandemic has made it even harder for unconventional families like Lisa’s to stay food secure. When asked what Lisa would tell other families facing these issues but are afraid of receiving assistance, she stated, “You never know when you may need to ask for help but remember it’s okay to ask for help because it’s not just you.”

To learn more about the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and our efforts to end hunger during these trying times, visit brfoodbank.org or call 225.359.9940.