Nathan Wilson | Reporter
The Cane River Food Pantry of Natchitoches published its first dedicated website Saturday, Jan. 29 in an effort to enhance its online presence beyond social media and create another avenue for Natchitoches residents to find information about the food pantry’s activities.
The website, www.CaneRiverFoodPantry.Weebly.com, consists of four pages including the homepage as well as pages dedicated to photos, videos and volunteer information. Donna Greene, director, indicated that as time goes on she may add an additional page featuring community members who contribute to the pantry’s operations. In particular, Greene emphasized the importance of volunteers to assist with the food pantry’s operations which include food collection, sorting, storage and packaging before the food is ready for distribution on the second Saturday of each month.
Individuals and community groups interested in volunteering are encouraged to contact Greene at 318-357-8296 to learn more about opportunities for both short and long term opportunities.
The website offers 24 hour access to application forms, food distribution dates and announcements related to food pantry activities. Food pantry distributions have looked different in recent years as they have adopted a drive-through format since early 2020 to combat the spread of Covid 19 by reducing contact between participants.
While food pantry volunteers make every effort to maintain its monthly distribution schedule, postponements occasionally occur around periods of inclement weather. Having a means of communicating this information to Natchitoches residents in advance helps prevent those seeking to take advantage of food aid from making an unnecessary trip during unsafe driving conditions and other disruptive events.
The Cane River Food Pantry draws upon contributions from across Natchitoches to provide distributions. Along with being a Feeding America affiliate, the Cane River Food Pantry receives contributions from sources within the community. Local food retailers, Super 1 and Wal-Mart, have contributed nearly 125,000 pounds of food to residents of Natchitoches Parish since 2017 as part of the Retail Recovery Program which aims to reduce food waste by contributing unsold food items.
Meanwhile, a half dozen local churches participate in board meetings with many of their congregants providing dedicated tithes. United Methodist, in particular, provides both office and storage space as part of its ongoing contribution. Other contributors to the food pantry’s mission include community groups such as the Lion’s Club, Rotary Foundation and Weyerhauser, which provide monetary grants used to purchase equipment such as refrigerators and freezers. Contributions are not limited to organizations, however with private individuals frequently dropping off canned goods and other items at the pantry’s administrative offices on Amulet street.
The Cane River Food Pantry provides food assistance to residents across Natchitoches Parish with eligibility based on need. Studies conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture reveal that a majority of food aid recipients over a five year period were classified as food insecure for less than one year. Only six percent of the households studied remained food insecure for the entire five year period.
Nathan Wilson | Reporter