Everything has been cleared since the last food distribution at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Paradis because there is no permanent place to keep what’s needed even as the need grows.
“We serve as least 120 people every third Wednesday,” said Carol White, who along with her husband, Donnie, manages the distribution. They’re retired living in Paradis, but recognized the need and welcome the opportunity to help.
The idea is rooted literally in the church starting a family garden nearly 10 years ago to help people in need.
“We saw a need for help and so we submitted an application to Second Harvest,” Carol said. “You can see it. There’s a great need.”
Every Thursday they make the order for USDA food, which arrives from Second Harvest. They choose the items from a list provided at no cost by the nonprofit and pay $50 a month for its truck to deliver it to the church. Clients typically get two bags of food with meat and eggs every month, as well as fruit, potatoes, cakes and bread.
“It’s all nourishing food,” Carol said. “There is fresh and canned vegetables.”
This work is part of the church’s Ministry of Care, which pays costs associated with providing the food and makes it possible to provide the food. The church is also donating land for the planned building.
The Whites ensure all clients meet the rules required to do this.
Without a permanent building, Carol said they have to give out all the food in one day, which means some clients might get three bags of it and some clients may have to come back to get anything. A new building would also allow them to feed clients longer.
“It’s generations … mother, daughter and grandchildren,” Carol said of some clients who come for the food in the last nine years since they started the food bank in Paradis.
They are respectful to clients because their lives can and sometimes change for the better.
“If they no longer need us, they tell us, saying they found a job and saying, ‘give it to someone else who needs it,’” Carol said.
She said many of their clients are fishermen who say there are no crabs to make a living anymore. Last month, they saw 10 additional clients. Overall, people come from Luling to Des Allemands.
“They will say work is slow and there are people laid off and you hear that a lot,” she said. “We don’t turn away people who need food. I just make sure people eat.”
When they need services like assistance to cover a utility bill, the Whites also coordinate services for them such as routing them to Catholic Charities to help cover the bill. Social Concerns helps provide clothing. The AARP sets up a booth at the distribution, which routes them to health services because many clients are seniors.
And there are times when the Whites help from their own pockets, such as buying diapers or milk for a baby. They also deliver food to homebound elderly.
“We reach out to everybody so they can feel needed and that helps us, too,” Carol said.
But she is quick to clarify this is also made possible by the people who volunteer from the church, Arc of St. Charles and schools.
St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran and Councilman Bobby Woodruff both agree they’re seeking ways to help meet the need. Parish Community Services Director Joan Diaz said they are working with the Whites to seek funding for a new building, as well as meet a growing parishwide need for food.
“We have four kids and when good things happen to us we feel we can share with others,” Carol said. “I see the vision to do this and I try to complete this vision and that is to help others.”
- Nearly 10 years, while starting a community garden to help those in need, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church’s Ministry of Care applied to Second Harvest to start a food bank.
- This year, they decided to seek an estimated $40,000 to build a permanent building to meet the growing clients.
- An estimated 120 clients are assisted at the Paradis food bank and the number is growing.