As Thanksgiving approaches, Ochsner Health and Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana are helping residents of southeast Louisiana access nutritious food and a little joy this holiday season. The two organizations joined forces over several days last week to hand out Thanksgiving-style hot meals, shelf-stable and fresh groceries, and small holiday gifts to families in several regions severely impacted by Hurricane Ida.
The week prior to Thanksgiving, volunteers visited Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. John, St. Charles, Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes. Over three days, 2,400 hot meals of turkey, side dishes, vegetables and fruit cobblers were distributed at local community sites in these parishes that are still actively recovering from the impacts of Hurricane Ida and COVID-19. Volunteers also handed out about 50,000 pounds of groceries, including ready-to-eat meals, canned goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, and pies. Families with young children received small, holiday-themed teddy bears.
“We care deeply about the communities we serve, and we know that our neighbors throughout southeast Louisiana are still affected by the catastrophic damage inflicted by Hurricane Ida,” said Warner Thomas, President and CEO of Ochsner Health. “We are committed to rolling up our sleeves through community service and eliminating barriers that impact the wellbeing and stability of all residents, which is why we were honored to partner with Second Harvest Food Bank for this important series of events.”
Ochsner and Second Harvest Food Bank know hunger and food security continue to be major issues in south Louisiana, and that those problems have only been exacerbated by recent events. Both organizations remain focused on using every resource available to give back, increase access to groceries and other household supplies and help make Louisiana healthier.
Second Harvest President & CEO Natalie Jayroe spoke about the long-term impact this partnership has had upon the food bank’s mission. “Ochsner’s amazing support has helped us feed so many hungry people across South Louisiana for many years. We’re so thankful for their continued engagement with our community’s needs on so many levels.”
During six distribution shifts, 107 Ochsner employees staffed the events, spending more than 280 hours of service handing out food donated by the hospital system. The Thanksgiving meal and grocery giveaway is one of many ways Ochsner has engaged in volunteer work and disaster response since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and following Hurricane Ida. Ochsner has also made the COVID-19 vaccine convenient and accessible to all the communities it serves and has offered onsite urgent care needs via the system’s mobile unit, which was deployed in hard-hit areas like the Bayou region and New Orleans East. These efforts are part of Ochsner’s commitment to increase access to health and make Louisiana a more equitable place for all residents.