Gabrielle Albi started her journey with the Food Bank in May of 2020 as a part of the Covington unit of the Louisiana National Guard (LANG). As a Louisiana Guardsman, she worked with KiEtha Gage, Programs Manager, to collect data at our pandemic specific mobile distributions. In October of 2020, the Programs Coordinator position became available and Albi was strongly encouraged by Food Bank staff to apply. She started at the Food Bank as a paid employee in October of 2020 but still continues to work with LANG to complete her orders.
As Programs Coordinator, Albi is in charge of the Mobile Pantry program as well as the Senior Grocery Program. “Everybody grows up knowing there is some type of need,” stated Albi. “But to actually see the need in person is eye opening.”
Prior to the pandemic, our Mobile Pantry program was dependent on large donors working with our development department to set up a distribution in their community. A company or local organization would donate funds to purchase specific items, such as a holiday meal, to distribute in their specified location.
We were forced to put a hold on the donor requested mobile distributions once our pandemic response began. However, our program was transformed January 2021 as a monthly direct food distribution site. We currently have 23 monthly distributions confirmed for this program with the capacity to hold 32 distributions, Tuesday through Friday.
As a part of our Mobile Pantry program, Albi is tasked with finding high poverty areas in our 11-parish service area where food resources are hard to come by or in some cases areas defined as food deserts. A food desert, defined by Feeding America, is any location where access to fresh and healthy food is limited. Once a location for a Mobile Pantry distribution is established, flyers are distributed in that area to inform the community that we will be present and encourage clients to apply to receive food. After Albi completes her tasks in the morning, as part of the LANG, she comes back to the office where she is responsible for inputting applications and recording data.
The Mobile Pantry Program is similar to our pandemic response mobiles; however, these mobile distributions are a monthly visit with a master list of clients who have pre-registered to receive food by meeting the qualifications. These mobile distributions may not be pandemic related, but that doesn’t mean our clients aren’t still dealing with the challenges left behind from furloughs and unemployment.
“We still see a need,” stated Albi. “We see every single month at every location the continued need for services in each