Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana is trying to make up for a 46 percent drop — or about 2.5 million fewer meals — in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodities it receives by using donated refrigerated trucks as mobile food pantries. Last week, Walmart donated 30 trucks to food banks across the United States, including two to Second Harvest.
"It's critical to our ability to get the food out," says Leslie Doles, communications and public relations director at Second Harvest. "The nature of the food (donated) at the food bank is changing. More perishable donated food items are coming through our facility instead of the traditional canned items people associate with the food bank."
In Louisiana, Second Harvest serves 263,000 different people a year, including 82,000 children and 40,000 seniors, Doles says. Normally the food bank has about 2 million pounds of food in its warehouse at any given time, but now that amount is down to an average 1.2 million pounds. To keep food on peoples' plates, Second Harvest has scheduled several fundraisers and food drives in the coming weeks:
• Rubber Duck Derby — Adopt a rubber duck for $5 (there are special rates for adopting multiple ducks) at www.no-hunger.org and watch them race in Bayou St. John at 4:30 p.m. May 20 during the Bayou Boogaloo. Prizes include a Chevy Sonic or Ford Fiesta from Banner Chevrolet and Ford, dinner for 10 at Zea Rotisserie & Grill and a luxury suite for 20 at a New Orleans Zephyrs game.
• Food drive — Letter carriers will pick up nonperishable items left by mailboxes at homes and businesses May 12.
• Can-struction — Architects and designers are using canned goods to build structures commemorating Louisiana's bicentennial. The structures will be on display May 25-26 during New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) tasting events at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Hall J. The cans of food used in the constructions go to Second Harvest.
• NOWFE partnership — NOWFE is donating 40 percent of proceeds from its 2012 event to Second Harvest. The other 60 percent will be given to groups that further culinary education. — Kandace Power Graves