Food bank helping Ark-La-Tex despite loss of funds

By Adria Goins – bio|email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – Soon kitchens across the Ark-La-Tex will smell like Thanksgiving but for some families the holiday might look a little different after being affected by the struggling economy. That's when they turn to the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana for help but even "help" has taken a hit.

More than 95,000 people in the seven parish area are below the poverty line. The food bank distributes items to 100 food pantries, helping 65,000 of those hungry residents. Red River and Bienville are the hardest hit for the number of people living in the area. More than 9,000 residents need help to eat.

"Our food distribution in Bienville and Red River parish escalated as much as 50 percent," said Martha Marak, executive director of the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana.

Marak said the increase in extra mouths to feed has taken a toll on the bank, especially since it will be its first Thanksgiving without government funding.

"That represented 33 percent of our inventory. That has been a huge hit for us."

Last year the non-profit organization lost 85 percent of its funding after Governor Bobby Jindal made budget cuts to the state's surplus funds. The remaining 15 percent was cut this year.

"It's at an unfortunate time when so many people are losing jobs within the state of Louisiana and it wasn't just our food bank it was every food bank across the state."

Despite the lack of aid, the food bank has not slowed down. They picked up several new donors to make up the difference and shelves have stayed stocked this holiday season. But they have found a lack in turkey's for Thanksgiving. If you'd like to help out, you can call the bank at 318-675-2400.

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