Like so many throughout Southern Louisiana, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank was devastated by the flood on August 14, 2016.
We received four feet of water throughout our 170,000 square foot building during the flood. The Food Bank lost everything—from our computers and office furniture to our trucks and warehouse equipment, as well as more than 500,000 pounds of purchased and donated food.
We lost everything—computers, trucks, 250 tons of food
Once we were finally able to get into the facility, the sight of all the damage to our warehouse, offices and equipment was devastating. There were stains on the walls from where dirty flood water had rushed in. Food that was going to be distributed to individuals in need was ruined and scattered throughout the warehouse. Canned goods and other nonperishable items were lifted from shelves and dropped far from where they once were. Desks, computers, and file cabinets were moved and waterlogged.
Our team knew that the community needed our help more than they ever had before. We immediately started clean-up and response efforts so that we could once again feed the hungry in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas. Within days, the Food Bank team moved from our flooded facility to a temporary location so we could distribute food into the community as soon as possible. The need for food drastically increased as so many individuals and families in our service area were devastated by the flood.
“You never think this will happen to you”
With more than a dozen of our member agencies not operating because of damage to their own facilities, we began mobile neighborhood food distributions to quickly get food into the hands of those who needed it most. Over the past few weeks, our Food Bank team has provided nearly 30,000 individuals and families with food, water, and household supplies, through neighborhood distributions alone. We knew we were making a difference when the recipient of one distribution said, “You never think it will happen to you, but I think this food is wonderful and a blessing. God bless each donor tenfold.”
Within just a couple weeks, contractors, volunteers, and workers removed damaged product and hauled out ruined equipment, leaving the Food Bank completely empty. Although it will take time to get back into the office space of the facility, we are finally able to move into the warehouse. Our coolers and freezers are operating correctly and sanitation results came back negative, which means we can safely put food back on the shelves.
A $7.5 million road to recovery
Despite the challenges we have faced, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has been blessed by generous donations and volunteers who have helped us to continue serving our community. Unfortunately, we still have a very long way to go—the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is facing an estimated $7.5 million in damages.
Our mission is to feed the hungry in Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes by providing food and educational outreach. In order for us to continue to fulfill our mission, we need help. From food and monetary donations to volunteering your time, there are many ways to give. You can also learn more about our story by visiting our Food Bank blog.