“The bayou revolves around family, food and ‘letting the good times roll.’ But now life as we know it has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Those words ring true for so many in the Bayou Region. Those words are also, in part, the mission statement of Feeding the Bayou, an initiative to give back to the frontline workers who are risking their lives for us — while supporting the local restaurants of our community.
Feeding the Bayou is a non-profit corporation with Jay and Dominique Schexnayder, owners of Dominique’s Bistro in Houma, as its officers.
“As restaurant owners, we know how important the hospitality industry is to our area,” shares Dominique. “For now, our goal is focused on helping local restaurants stay a float. Our next goal may be something different. Regardless of what it is, we will always do what we can to help anyone in our community in need. We want to make a difference.”
The “Feeding the Bayou” program officially began on April 7.
“I was reading about other cities in the country, including New Orleans, that were collecting donations and using the funds to buy food from local restaurants and donate it to the hospitals,” Dominique says. “I loved this idea: putting money back into our industry and getting the same result, a smile on the face of our local heroes out on the front line.”
Currently, the group has partnered with Moe’s Southwest Grill, The Shack, 531 Liberty, Griffin’s, Firehouse Subs, Watergrill, C’est Bon Cafe, Dominique’s Bistro, Michele’s Catering and Jimmy Johns, but Dominique says she is reaching out to other local food establishments as the initiative continues to progress.
In the program, food is ordered from a different participating restaurant each day to feed a different department in a local hospital. Leonard J Chabert Medical Center, Terrebonne General Medical Center and Thibodaux Regional Health System have received meals so far. They have also contacted nursing homes, Acadian Ambulance and local urgent cares to begin feeding them as well.
One hundred percent of all monetary donations received by Feeding the Bayou will go toward providing food for local medical staff. As of press week, $8,900 has been donated to Feeding the Bayou. With those donations, 785 meals have been donated to hospitals and $7,688.21 has been spent at local restaurants.
“If there is anyone else who would like to help or could use our help, I hope they reach out,” Dominique adds. “We are all in this together.”
The program has recently been recognized by the Bayou Community Foundation for their efforts. The Bayou Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to the Al Copeland Foundation’s program “Be a hero, Thank a Hero.” Feeding the Bayou has partnered with both foundations to reach more local heroes.
“This is an incredible honor!” Dominique says. “With this grant, we will be able to feed more front line workers while giving even more money to our local restaurants.”
Behind every great effort is always a fantastic support team.
“Jay has been the most supportive,” shares Dominique of her business partner and husband. “He helped me take my vision and idea and run with it! A few others have helped get Feeding the Bayou off the ground, as well. Amanda Fidler donated her amazing talents and created us a logo, webpage and entire brand. Nick Hebert has donated his time to making all of our deliveries. And our community has donated more money than I ever imagined.”
And while the program was founded out of necessity, Dominique has big dreams for the future.
“I want Feeding the Bayou to go beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, the pandemic is the reason I decided to start Feeding the Bayou, but why would I stop there,” says Dominique. “There will always be a need for food or help within our community. Feeding the Bayou will hopefully continue to play a vital role in our charitable community long after the pandemic is over.” POV