Plan monthly events open to all
The Arc of St. Charles is giving back to the community in ways that nourish those in need while bringing the organization’s individuals closer to the people.
By partnering with Second Harvest, Arc’s individuals man a mobile food bank at its Cajun Village Thrift Store site once a month, said spokeswoman Kelsey Pollock.
“In St. Charles Parish, we think of it as a parish of plenty and rich in a lot of resources, but there are a lot of people in need and more than you might think,” she said. “So, we’re using Arc connections to meet that need.”
Pollock said the need is evident in the numbers.
At Arc’s first mobile food bank in December, they served 93 families. At the latest one, the number jumped to 112 families in a two-hour period, she said. Recipients don’t have to live in the parish or meet income requirements, but only need to provide a photo ID.
Arc’s next food bank is scheduled Feb. 6, which Pollock said will include more produce, bread, desserts, dairy products and more perishable items. Recipients go down a line and choose preferred items, which means people like diabetics can pass on cake for more fruit.
“This is something we really need because our Arc individuals are the ones passing out the food,” she said. “It gives them volunteer experience and social interaction.”
An estimated 20 Arc individuals assist at each food distribution, Pollock said.
“The idea is to boost vocational skills through volunteerism, and the concept of the mobile food bank fit that direction,” she said. “We call it integration of services.”
With the monthly food bank, Pollock said the impact it has on the families served has been successful for Arc.
“We thought it was very successful,” she said. “And just seeing the impact of how many families we serviced … and how it grew from one food pantry to another … and it’s still growing. It’s a learning experience for sure. But, overall, the impact on the community we feel has been very successful.”
Second Harvest pitched the idea to Arc because they were in need of a West Bank location, but Pollock said they readily recognized it as a good fit for both organizations.
“It also brings people to our thrift store, which is another need that is met,” she said.
Arc gives incentives, such as a coupon, to food recipients to visit the store, too.
Also, in longstanding partnership with Zachry Group in Luling, the two organized a Christmas food basket giveaway to Arc families and those chosen through community referrals based on need.
Jody Horn, site manager for Zachry, said Arc is one of 20 organizations that Zachry and its employees partner with throughout the year.
“Our Zachry team has been giving back to local nonprofit organizations for over 25 years here in St. Charles Parish,” Horn said. “Zachry’s commitment is making a difference in the quality of life in families and giving back to the community in which we live and work for over 90 years. The Christmas season is always a special time of the year for most families and, at Zachry, we wanted to make sure Christmas season is special for all. The faces on the families when they received their Christmas baskets was full of joy and happiness and that said it all. We want to say thank you to The Arc for giving us the opportunity to make a difference this year.”
Pollock said they hope to increase this number this year, with each basket including a turkey, cooking essentials, nonperishable vegetables and sides.
“We delivered to almost every community in St. Charles Parish,” Pollock said. “These baskets would overall make a really nice Christmas dinner for the whole family.”
Additionally, Arc individuals participate as volunteers at the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter and assisted living centers with crafting.