Today (Thursday, March 26), the New Orleans City Council sent a letter to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for approval of the Louisiana Disaster Household Distribution Program for 30 days.
If approved, this would allow local food banks to access critical reserves that cannot be used without this declaration.
“Our chief industries – hospitality and tourism – are amongst those most impacted by the virus; New Orleans alone has 72,000 hospitality workers (JFF), and our workforce has been hit hard by lay-offs and furloughs,” said Councilwoman Nguyen. “The state’s population has been forced to turn to food assistance at a rate no one could have foreseen, and neither our public safety net nor our state’s charitable services have been able to cope with this new reality.”
Councilwoman Nguyen and her staff have been serving at food banks across District “E” daily for the past two weeks and have witnessed first-hand the need. According to the councilwoman, residents have been lining up as early as 8 a.m. even though the food bank doesn’t open until 11 a.m., and often runs out of before the scheduled closing time each day.
“While we were elected in the City of New Orleans, our interests lie in serving all residents in the state of Louisiana,” Nguyen added. “The largest food bank in the City of New Orleans serves residents from neighboring parishes and states, and it will be empty and closed by Friday if no action is taken by the USDA to grant Louisiana approval of a Disaster Household Distribution Program to be enacted statewide for a period of 30 days. Our residents are suffering because of inaction. Please grant this approval for the residents of New Orleans, and the residents of Louisiana.”