Our Daily Bread (ODB) is a non-profit food bank whose goal is to alleviate hunger in Tangipahoa Parish in an organized and cost effective manner. Established in 1999, when local social workers asked pastors to assist needy individuals and families in the area. With 30 volunteers, ODB assisted 99 families.
The food bank has three main ways to help families meet their basic food needs: pantry boxes, emergency boxes, and hot meals.
Pantry boxes are a major component of the food bank. Each month food boxes are distributed through the 27 satellite pantry sites, which are strategically located throughout the 50-mile long parish. Volunteers run all sites; each one has a director that coordinates the food pick up at ODB and box preparation. Each pantry has trained volunteers to take applications for pantry boxes. Every month approximately 2,200 families receive a food box.
Emergency boxes are prepared at the main office for those who find themselves in desperate situations such as fire victims,
recently unemployed, and those referred by other local social service agencies. In the last year, distribution of
over 600 emergency boxes came out of the ODB office.
The hot meal program provides meals from three kitchen sites. The site in Hammond serves meals two days per week. The two locations in the northern part of the parish each cook a meal one day per week. Headed by a kitchen supervisor, volunteer
cooking crews prepare and serve meals, welcoming all who are in need. Approximately 1755 meals feed those that are hungry
in the community every month.
The problem addressed by Cooking with Compassion is the high poverty rate in the parish, which is 22.5% and is almost double the national level of 14.8%. ODB strives to help those who live on a limited income, especially the elderly by supplementing their food needs. Often clients must choose between food and paying bills or buying medicine.
ODB has grown rapidly to meet the needs of the community. Until 2011, the food bank operated out of small and very old building, a generous donation from a community member allowed for the purchase of a building located in a low-income area of Hammond. With donated materials and volunteer labor, renovations converted the old facility into a 6,000 square foot warehouse/office, which greatly improved operations and services. Grant money and donations in 2013 facilitated the purchase and installation of a walk-in cooler and freezer that each holds 12 pallets of donated food. Another large grant also made it possible to buya muchneeded refrigerated truck. The new truck had an immediate impact on services by not only increasing the capacity to pick up large amounts of donated food but also expanding the pickup area.
In 2015, ODB purchased the building next to the warehouse/office. This building, again with help from
community members, volunteer crews, a large foundation grant, and some donated materials has been remodeled
into a commercial kitchen and dining facility.
These upgrades have vastly improved operations and expanded services to our clients.
In addition to our traditional food bank role, we are one of the primary sources of grocery distribution and hot meals during disasters, particularly hurricanes. After the most recent catastrophic flooding, local and national emergency agencies sent truckloads of supplies directly to ODB to use our unique distribution system, which rapidly moved food and supplies all over the parish. ODB delivered food items to different groups in the community who cooked for flood victims and first responders. During disasters, the executive director is an intermediary between community leaders and donors who wish to send relief items.
The latest disaster to hit our parish reinforced the urgent need to provide thousands of meals not only
for those in our parish but also to help evacuees.
Besides funding from United Way and the federal Emergency Food and Shelter Program, ODB will continue to seek support for the program Cooking with Compassion by applying for grants, donations from individuals, churches, and businesses. Operating costs for the hot meal program are extremely low due to the fact that almost all the food is donated. The success of ODB continues to be the 400 dedicated volunteers, which includes our volunteer executive director. Feeding thousands of people in the community would be an overwhelming task if not for the thousands of hours of labor these volunteers provide.
Plans for evaluating the program include tracking number of meals served, entering information in database and monthly reports. ODB uses data collected to plan meals, assess client needs, and for disaster preparedness.
As a result of the Cleco/Our Daily Bread Cooking with Compassion program, twenty five thousand meals will serve the needy. The local newspaper will print an article about the partnership along with updates on social media. Cooking with Compassion will ensure that those that struggle with food insecurity will find some relief through a hot meal and caring volunteers.