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OneRouge Community Check-In: Week 188

Back when COVID hit, the brokenness of the collective systems we use daily were laid bare. The most shocking was how tenuous our food system is.

  • Can we get and keep enough?

  • How much does it really cost?

  • What do we need to do to fix this mess we are in?

 These are the types of questions our Capital Area Food Equity or CAFÉ Coalition considers as it attempts to decrease the number of individuals in the Capital Region experiencing food insecurity.

The coalition's goals are relatively straightforward and start with the promotion of existing feeding programs so folks can be connected to healthy food. This Friday's call, we are talking existing programs. Please, join us as our guests share local resources!



Casey Phillips: W elcome everyone to the space today and happy MLK festival weekend. That is the vibration to begin it with. We were just celebrating not only Pepper having a little bit of snow on her car, but her new Art installation behind her. It's been a great Friday with the walls team this morning and I appreciate you all spending the time. So with that being said, pepper, I know we have a lot to get through today and I want to hand it back off to you.  

Pepper Roussel: And I would be happy to receive it if I could ever actually find my mute button, which is wild to me because it doesn't, but it's almost like Halloween. I can never. Thank you all for joining me on this. Happy Friday morning. You know how much I enjoy you being here and spending part of your day with us. We are starting a series on. A couple of things that are pretty interesting, which are essentially the things that we're doing in the coalitions part of how we started was to ensure that well, everybody had access to enough and we've got programs that are throughout the city to And we don't all seem to know about them, what they are, we can get to them. And so that's part of what we're doing today is to share a little bit of information about where it is that you can find stuff and how it is that you can connect your partners to those existing programs. And with that, I'm going to step aside and let Jannean Dixon lead us off because I know she's time bound Jannean. Please let us know who you are. We need to know your 5 minutes starts now. 

Jannean Dixon: All right. Thank you so very much for having me this morning. I really appreciate it. I love what this group is doing. Little bit about me. I am a co founder at Red Stick Cares. We are a nonprofit on Essen lane. And our mission is to care for the mental, social and behavioral health of our community. And we do this through human connection. So many of us we're busy. Everybody's busy, and we tend to get isolated. And we all know thanks to 2020, the isolation is not the way to grow our personal selves and to be our happiest.  So in 2022, we. My co founder and I, we took the plunge into this nonprofit world. Her background is special education and mental health counseling. Mine is special education and special education advocacy. And pretty soon what we learned is it's really difficult to try and convince someone to work on their mental health if their primary concern is how they're going to feed their family tonight. And so we were very persistent with our partner, Trader Joe's, that we wanted to become a share partner with them. So several days a week, Trader Joe's calls out whatever it is that they no longer wish to sell. But. It's not expired. It's still got time on it. It's still really great meat and dairy and produce. And so we basically bugged them until they were like, okay, yes, we will give you some food. And so we started small, we would have maybe one or two SUVs of food and we would open our doors on Sundays and people would come and get it.  over the last, it's been almost a year since the first food pantry with them began. And now we're serving about 200 people every Sunday who can come and get the food. So how this works is Sunday mornings. We all meet at Trader Joe's in the back. We load up four or five SUVs worth of food. Typically tons of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and then more limited amounts of dairy, cheese and meat. And we take it all back to Red Stick Cares, where we have a force of volunteers who are there waiting to help us unload the food, sort the food, set the food out. And in the meantime, we have a line gathering of people from the community who just need a little help. One thing our food pantry It's a little bit different is that we don't have any sort of registration requirements. We're not asking for documents. We don't need to know where you live.  We gather just enough data to use for our grant writing processes so we'd like to know how many people are in your home,  your zip code, things like that, but we don't say no to anyone. And so people are able to come through and gather the things that their family will eat, that they know how to prepare, that they're interested in having. And we say thank you so much for coming. We'll see you next week. One thing that we work really hard on is to normalize needing help and accepting help.  I always work the door. And it's my favorite place to stand because some things, some people are coming through and they're they're, we've seen them a lot. We know their names. We've, we've made that connection with that family, with that person. But my favorite is actually the people that have never been before. And so they're walking up and they're, checking us out from hooded eyes and they're not sure what's happening and they're not sure if they're going to be welcome and they're not sure how this works. And that's my favorite. Cause I can jump in there and say, Oh, I don't recognize you. Are you new to coming? We're so glad that you came. How did you hear about us? And by the time they leave, their shoulders are back, they're more comfortable. You can see that they're more confident in being here. And most people do they'll come back. We also run a clothing pantry at the same time. We get a lot of donations of everything. And so we'll run that the same time. And every week we feature a different thing. So maybe this week it's men's clothes and next week it's children's clothes. And the week after that it's shoes. And so people come in and take what they need. 

Pepper: I will echo the sentiment that is in the chat, which is amazing. That is absolutely incredible. So thank you all so much for the work that you are doing  before we dive more into and I know we've got 30 minutes, right? Before we dive into more of what  red stick cares does. We are going to shift to just to the right of my screen. Which will be Laine Peterson. So Laine, if you would not mind letting us know who you are, what you do, what we need to know,  we'd appreciate it. Your 5 minutes starts now. 

Laine Peterson: Hello, everybody. Thanks for having me here today. My name is Laine Peterson. I am a public affairs manager for the greater Baton Rouge industry alliance. But today I'm here representing Forum 225 as the service committee chair. So we are currently. About to open our community pantry at the Delmont Gardens branch library in North Baton Rouge, and it opens on January 29th. This started as an idea back in April of 2023, and it came from our service committee. They thought that it would be really great to have a resource for people in that area to come and get food and. Like blankets and things like that to be able to be comfortable and to be able to eat. And so we had tons of sponsors. We have a contractor who is on our service committee who was able to build the entire structure. The library partnered with us. They poured the concrete slab. They ran the electric electricity and everything and Taylor Brignac, who owns Honeybee Construction, came in and he built this wonderful, beautiful structure and inside the structure we have a pantry, we have shelving, and we are excited to load that up with canned foods, drinks, hygiene products,  baby formula, all kinds of things like that for people to come in and grab. I want to make sure I'm not missing anybody beautiful mural on the outside of the structure that a service committee member recommended to us and someone came out and they actually painted an outline for us. And then the committee came in together to paint by numbers on the structure. So it was really cool because everybody got to participate in that. And, and put their own touch on it in a way, and it's hands holding food on the outside. It's very welcoming and colorful and complimentary to the library. So we are very excited to open this on January. 29.  I shared the donation policy. I can share it in the chat as well. We're looking for. Donations right now, the Highland Park Tennis Association has partnered with us to collect donations as well. And we are just really excited to open the structure. Tyler Litt is also on the call. She's the president of Forum 225 and I just want to pass it to her. If she has any additional things to add to this. 

Tyler Litt: I think Laine covered all of the things about the pantry. But I definitely wanna say it's been a labor of love, but also it's been an amazing opportunity for forum 225 members to learn more about our community and really to have a hands-on approach and also be able to bring in multiple generations and other organizations to support us in making this possible. So definitely appreciate the work of Laine and the service committee in making this possible. Thank you.  

Pepper: Look at this and under time super sweetness.  All right. We are going to come back to all of this. I am so actually pretty excited to paint by numbers thing because that I think I could do. And I am excited because we,  when I say we, the Royal we of the walls project does murals. I admire them and take pictures of them once they're up. But I am not an artist. So excited in that and it's actually really quite lovely. All right. I don't where are you food friend? Our very own cafe co chair. Nichola hall is going to share with us. Some of the you are is going to share with us some of the really exciting options and resources that we have through well, what? Let me not steal the thunder. Your five minutes starts now. Please let us know who you are, what you do, and what we need to be involved. 

Nichola Hall: All right. Hello, everyone. Good morning.  All right now. Hey, all right. That's what I'm talking about. Cause we are alive to fight another day. Okay. So we're going to be okay. All right. Good morning. My name is Nicola Hall. I am the chief HR officer for EBR schools, and I'm also the co chair for one Rouge one. One Rouge slash One Rouge Cafe. So super exciting. I love food, but I love kids even more. And that's where the passion comes from. And that's where the excitement comes from all the time. So five minutes and I'm going to try to summarize. And I know my counterparts before me did an awesome job, but we going to rock it right now. Okay. So hold on real quick. So two years in, a lot of things have changed for child nutrition. Okay. So when you think of K 12 world, you think about cardboard food, not tasty, doesn't look good. Etc. It's not appetizing. We change a whole thing. We just dug it up, throw it out and said, let's start from scratch. So what we did, we ventured out into the community, listened to have some listening sessions with some folks and said, Hey, what is it that y'all want to hear? And what is it that y'all want to see different? When I say the listen community, I'm talking about the students because they're the ones who know exactly what is it that they want. And there are clientele. And then we tap into the parents to figure out if we do this, would you support it? And there's been a lot of excitement. in it from this whole conversation. So we went from school community gardens to bringing that item on the tray on the plate and then providing education because I firmly believe if we go back to the days of scratch cooking, we could definitely impact diabetes, hypertension, all that stuff that is like, Oh, can we just get rid of it by just figuring out a better way, giving more medicine, no fresh fruit, vegetable, et cetera, et cetera. Okay. So change the menu. In the past, there used to be just apples and oranges on the menu on the service line. Now, you could find blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, you name it, we got it. Kiwis, anything that we have out here that's out here, we gon put it on these trays. Cause we want to let, share to kids, not just apples and oranges, but there's a variety of different fresh fruits and vegetables that can help to fight. The things that we're trying to fight every day without being too over the top which is hard for me because I'm always over the top and I'm always excited about food. But the most important thing because we have to do this in such a large volume. How do we make sure that this is standardized right? How do we do that? How many schools? We got 80 schools and about 6, 000 employees, about 40, 000 students and we have middle, elementary and high.  Okay, we have to standardize the recipe. So we create recipes. First thing, hire some chefs. So I have two regional chefs. The goal is to have five, one per region. Okay, and create recipes based on the clientele of each region. So we have two, got three more to go. But before I could get to that, I have to increase participation. Participation is how we are able to get paid. Oh, thank you, Pepper. Thank you for plugging that in there. So with that being said, to enable to make change, we have to start from scratch, right?

Not just scratch cooking, but also training. So we went from hiring chefs to changing the recipe, then training and then communicating these changes verbally. Through town hall meetings. So we have taste testings to town hall meetings. We also show up at student advisory council meetings, parent advisory council, wherever there's a council meeting. We up in there. We there showing out, sharing the tasting and let people know this is what we're having in school food because we want people to get excited about our meals. We are on the TV. We're doing scratch cooking right on top of the TV. We got kids there with us. It's such an exciting time to be a part of this. I digress. I did give a whole presentation. I didn't know about the five minutes I get carried away, but I did share with pepper and pepper is going to roll this out with the blessing of Casey and other folks. So you could get a chance of to see what's happening but the last thing I want to share with you what I'm going to wrap up. Last year, October, I should say October 2022 versus October 2023.  The change in terms of how much we've said  we increase.  Breakfast by 1%. Lots of opportunity there. Lunch has been increased by 11%.  11%. And supper is increased by  38%.  There is a cool thing with One Rouge. One of the objectives is to be able to feed kids. Our feed everyone's meals should be accessible for three, three times a day, seven days a week. That is the goal from a child nutrition standpoint. I don't know if I'm able to do it all the time, but I'm gonna see if how much I could exhaust the option. And I'm going to ask for forgiveness later on because I think that it's food, give the kids the food, let them eat it and enjoy it. Okay, so without being said, I digress. That is my spiel, and that is my five minutes of school food,  EBR, etc. 

Pepper: Bravo bravo. Speaking of which, I didn't realize we were all girls here today. Hey friends. Anyway so we,  yes, Casey, we'll let you into yeah. So I want to start because I know Janine's got to go first. Please, if y'all have, indeed, I've got questions about that, too. Bestie. What  I know that you'd said that there are no, there's no criteria, right? You show up and you just get how do you let people know that this is a service that's available? Yes, we are doing our part here today by getting it out to our partners, but otherwise, I see it in the chat. Do you have any flyers? How do we get it to our people? What's the marketing scheme? 

Jannean: It's been a lot of word of mouth. We started small and it's grown just very organically people telling people and then more people come and it's just wonderful. We are also, we have a pretty large presence on social media. So we put out lots of Facebook posts about it. And we target specific groups on Facebook, like single mom groups, single dad groups  just anywhere that we can think of that this information might need to be. 

Pepper: Sweet. And I'm guessing because every now and again, I don't see her readily, but I know she's in her somewhere. Reverend Anderson will bring up grandparents raising grandchildren. So is that  a population that you look to as well?  

Jannean: We definitely do. I am in another organization and so is grandparents raising grandchildren. And so we are able to disseminate information that way. One of the things that we were super mindful of coming into the non profit environment is that there are already people doing phenomenal things in our city. And it was never, ever our intention to step on toes. And so whenever we're going to start an initiative, the first thing we do is look around and see is it a need in our area? Is somebody else already doing a really great job with it? Because if so, we're just going to send our people to them. Do they need some support with it? And so we've been able to build a lot of really strong community partnerships in the last 15 months, which I can't believe it's been just 15 months and all these things are happening. But we are able to disseminate with our community partners and they help us get the word out as well. It's been just beautiful. I have found the nonprofit space here to be super welcoming and not territorial in that there's so much need. And we will all have a full plate if we help as much as we can, and there will still be more people in need. 

Pepper: All there are questions about supper and I want to get to those real quick before people  fantastic. What is supper?  And how do you get it?  

Nichola: Okay, perfect. So if you have a I'm sorry, my apologies. I get excited over the top. Okay, so supper meals are they're offered in schools where there's an internal program if there is an after school program at the school site or external partners that come in and do after school, whether it's Tutoring, et cetera. We just want to make sure there's an enrichment program tied to the school and that we're able to serve. This is why we have 38 percent increase because we didn't have that the year before. There were partners exist in the school building offering these services, but they were, we were scared to feed. I don't know why, but tapped into that space and here we are. So if they, if there are community partners on here that have  programs within schools and need more information, please email me because we would love to tap into that. No kids go. Helpful and hungry. So please let me know. 

Pepper: Awesome. All right.  And so there was a mention Jeannine made about working within existing programs and Forum 225 is it looks like a volunteer gig, right? So for except for Tyler.  So talk to me tell me how does this fit into the existing programs are and how do people get involved? 

Laine: Forum has Several committees and service is a big 1 in it. And you can just join the committee and come to our service meetings. We have them every month on the 2nd, Tuesday of the month. And the way to get involved is to just come to the meetings and everybody's super eager to volunteer, get involved, spread the word. So we. Every meeting, we really do have several initiatives that people come to the table with and we work together to promote those initiatives and bring people to those projects. 

Pepper: And so speaking of projects, there's a note in the chat that Louisiana children won't be receiving summer meal assistance. All right, so we'll start with the shaky head.  And then Janneane, if you can help us your programs are, of course, for geared towards adults in families with.  Other people, whether they be children or adults. Yes. So we'll start with this idea of summer being the crisis point and move from there. If you don't mind.  

Nichola: Yeah, that is the 1st. I'm hearing about that. That Louisiana will not be receiving that. How do you even put that in? How's that even a thing to begin with? This is the first time I'm hearing about this and summer meals or summer feeding has been around for years. That is a stopgap for when school is out. When school is out during the summer months, how are we going to feed these kids?  So I am not aware of that. And our summer applications start in February through March. So I'm going to do some deep dive into this, but this is the first I'm hearing about this, not saying that this is not an accurate statement, but I'm not aware of it.

Casey: It was in the, it was in the advocate this morning.

Nichola: Yes. I'm looking at it now. Yeah. I'm sorry. And if it's not, if this is  if they're limiting the amount of reimbursement that it will give us, we have to figure out this is where I come in to figure out how can I backfill  that gap. This is why it's important to do really well in terms of participation during the regular school year. So whatever surplus funding we have, we're able to and I think it's really important that we still supply the meals and services necessary for kids. So I'm going to digress. They're not a commitment. Just want to share that. There are other alternatives. No kids go hungry. Regardless. We'll figure this out.

Pepper: That's what's up. So yeah, Jan Mueller has also dropped a little snippet in there. So if you grab those and I do. Oh, thanks. And. Making so just starting from where we are, right? So kids may not have enough in the summer. Janneane tell us about your clientele, right? Yes, we've got folks who show up. They just get fit. Is it a box? It is a bag. How, what's in the, is this like the commodities that my grandma used to get? Because that cheese was,  

Jannean: I'm sorry. That's not your grandma's cheese.  I understand the impact that those chocolate dome flavors have on us. No, so we feel very strongly that you should get what you are going to enjoy and what you're going to cook. Because if you're given a box of random stuff and you don't know what couscous is,  that bag of couscous is going to get wasted. But if I can get it to the hands of somebody who does like it and knows how to cook it and wants to eat that, then that's fantastic. So we don't, you don't just get a prepackaged box. You actually come through and you go through the aisles and you choose what you want. So if you are a kale eating family, you're grabbing that kale, you're grabbing, whatever it is that you are going to cook with that kale. Because we never know what we're going to get. We find that works really well because we sort it by different kinds of foods and then people can come through and get what they're going to eat and what they're going to feed their families.We provide grocery bags. And so we have always people are donating grocery bags to us. And so we give each person who comes through three grocery bags. And we try to not limit the fruits and vegetables just because we have a lot of those things. But we do typically have a limit on the meats and the other proteins that will say, this week We have this much. Each family can take one or sometimes we're like super blessed and we're like, you get four meats, this time. And so we just, and it's, we gave it out until it's gone.  

Pepper: Awesome. I'll free to tell my best story. I see your hands up.  

Alfreda Tillman Bester: Sorry, I meant to take it down pep. I just put a whole dissertation in the notes  but I just wanted everybody to know that as I read the article on last evening, it said that the governor's office had not yet made a final decision  about accepting the food, the summer feeding program, but I think that it is incumbent upon all of us. All of us to let the governor's office know that it is not acceptable to, to exacerbate hungry Children in Louisiana. We have to accept that money and and that option for our Children, because otherwise we have Children who don't get to eat during the summer when school is not in session. 

Pepper: And  I don't, you know what? I'm starting to wonder what are we doing? Just why are we doing vote? We don't vote. That's it. You know what? It's starting early. I'm sorry.  Is always time for my disclaimer voting is 1 thing. However choosing from choosing between the lesser of 2 evils is still an evil. So you need to put forth your own candidates and your own ideas and to advocate for the things you actually want to see. All right, let me put away my soapbox.  9 as well?  All right, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. We are going to  make sure that we get all of the information into the notes that are going out. I see that. You've also dropped in a  community food.  Thank you very much. And so best of luck or break a leg your spot this morning.  

Janneane: Thanks everyone. Thanks for having me. 

Pepper: All right summer is all federal money.  Yeah, it is  anyway 71Million dollars that'd be spent in local grocery stores anywhere else that accepts snap. And so we are going to.  We are going to ensure we're going to make sure that we do connect not only to the snap benefits, but also for summer, but also supporting Nichola and cafe. However, it is that, that we should there we are, I lost my form 225 folks. All right. If y'all have any questions for form 225 for Nichola for around food for cafe in general, please drop those into the chat.  Otherwise, Tyler. Tell me about how it is that y'all decided on the groups that you have that you're seeking volunteers for and how it is that you move forward with ensuring that you have the right people who are in these positions  to give their time and their efforts.  

Tyler Litt: Absolutely. I know Laine said the access to joining our service committee is pretty low. The bar is show up and just be willing and able to lend in. However you may I would say that ensuring that you have the right people in the room. Really? You see that with time. Lane has been an amazing person in this role that started off with another chair who ended up moving away and Lane has persisted. And so I think character a lot shows up in doing the work. And so Lane has, when I tell you, we've cleaned it out because there was an unhoused person living there once.  Laine has, brought her family in and done some things. It really shows up that way. And so honestly, you do your best to vet. But with young professionals with volunteers, a lot of the time, life happens and, you just see who shows up. And so laine one, I want to just make sure that I publicly appreciate you for continuously showing up. This is a show of character. What you do when you. You're not in front of other people. And Laine has literally done so very much to advance this. As far as finding organizations to support us and donating, I think a lot of this was around conversations. What is the purpose of wanting to participate with us on this? Is it, Oh, because we want to be a part of a press release or is it, actually we see the need. We know that like we may live on the other side of town. But we understand that we can make a difference. And so I think finding people who are mission aligned again, it shows up in their actions and not necessarily just their words.  

Pepper: That's fantastic. And so it looks like you also have a, oh,  very nice. Look at Helena in the chat. It looks like you'll also have a committee that supports specifically school children. Is that accurate? Or am I misreading that?  

Tyler: So there is another part of our service committee. It's called our public education project. And so every single year we have funding that's allocated to that. And we select a different school to partner with this year. I think we did something a little bit different because we had. Amazing support from honeybee constructions from some of our community partners and a lot of energy from our service committees, especially laine it to make this the big thing. And so we've been able to ensure that some of the resources that we would have. Given that we're school age resources are also going to be inside of that Delmont Gardens library location, but usually every year we have something called the public education project as well.  

Pepper: So I saw something in the chat that was asking about Delmont Gardens. Can we say a little bit more about that? Pat, are you. Able to come off mute and share a little bit more about what you wanted to know. 

Pat Le Duff: Good morning. Yes, I just wanted to know, I know, I heard you say the 29th, but like a rundown the other lady did about with Red Stick, what do we tell the public in our area? Because Scotlandville area will probably be gravitating over to Delmont. The process of, do they show up? Do you fill out forms? How will it operate? 

Laine: For this process for the library we partnered with them early last year. They were very eager to have this this structure it's literally in their parking lot almost so as we've been building it and we've been out there and we've been active with it, we've actually had a ton of people already come to it and ask questions and wonder what it is. So we've been able to really engage them and explain what's going on with it when we're opening it and that everyone's invited. You don't have to fill out any forms. We welcome anyone it's open. It's going to be open when it officially opens on the 29th to during the library hours. And so they will come out in the morning and open it and then close it at night. But anyone is welcome  to come and to get anything that's in the pantry. We encourage.  food, canned foods, dry foods, hygiene products, anything for baby formula, baby food, diapers, pet food blankets, hand warmers, all that kind of stuff. You don't have to fill out anything. We will have signage on the fridge to, or I'm sorry, on the structure of the pantry to explain what it is, what it's there for and it's a come one, come all policy. 

Pat: Okay, so 1 question if you had donations. Because we get donations and we have a kind of like a refrigerator program, something similar to that. It's got a little CDC on Garchar Street,  but sometimes we get more than we can actually hold in the refrigerator. How do we get some of that donated over there? 

Laine: You can contact me, I'll give you my contact information and we can get together to get those donations. And we would love to do that.  

Pat: Okay, great job. Thank you. Thank you. Or you go to 4 lane.

Pepper: There's a question in the chat. Is there a centralized location for donating or do we just email you? 

Laine: You can just email me. I'm happy to meet anyone wherever to come and collect donation. So just contact me and we can work something out to collect those donations.  

Pepper: Oh, I feel so warm and fuzzy. And  where'd my food friend go? Nichola, where are you? All right. So I've got a question about this farm to school program. Can,  how does this work? And how can they actually eat the food that is coming off of the farm directly?  Or is this more about  about sourcing? Tell me more. 

Nichola: Unmute. There you go. Okay, so Farm to School is literally in the infancy state right now. If SK is on the call, major shout out to SK and Casey for helping to collaborate with us to get the word out. Essentially  Other  states are doing this farm to school. It's a really cool space to be in because it's not just about  reaping what you sow and put it on your plate from the back of your yard or whatever if you're into gardening. It's also about teaching kids where food comes from, right? Like it didn't just fall off somewhere back of a truck or something. It just magically appear On your on your plate. So the goal is to expand. So right now we have school gardens that are being operated as an educational space.  So the goal is to be able to incorporate the items from the school gardens on the tray. And eventually, if I'm here  longer beyond because there's a lot going on here, it will be great. The ideal space is to have a salad bar in every school cafeteria. Okay. If you could change or expose a child's palate at a young age, kindergarten, by the time they get to high school, you'll see a decrease in all the things that are unhealthy.

And I talked about that earlier, right? So we currently have we chose about five schools thus far, and those are mostly high schools. And there are some like park. Medical have a really robust program. Capital High School have a really robust programs. So we're piloting those spaces to see how what we could do to implement. So right now it's the  planting season. So we're going to see how that works. And there are no regulations because that was the whole point or  the artificial roadblock.  roadblock. You can't do it right now because there's so much regulations that you can't just take things from the dirt. It has to be clean and all that stuff. B. S. It can be done. It has been done in other places and we're gonna do it. And then I'm gonna ask for forgiveness later.  If it doesn't, if I, step on somebody's toe, but sometime we gotta get out there and do things to be uncomfortable to do more for kids. So I digress. So farm to school is a thing. If anybody wants to get onto this train, it's a lot of fun. And we're partnering with LSU for some, it is a farm to school institute at the LSU AgCenter. So I'm working on that to be able to partner with them to see what more we could do to get this word out. But it is a thing in EBR and it's coming soon. 

Pepper: A thing that's coming soon. So I've got a note in the chat from Carl Motzbacher about the farm to school program that started back in 2017. It feels like a long time ago for some reason. Anyway there are three aspects of it. And so it sounds like growing food in schools is where y'all are found your sweet spot. Am I right about that?  Yes.  To speak of asking questions and getting permission later, the the food pantries, right? Or excuse me, the refrigerators, the community refrigerators where are those located? Are the and sorry, form for forum 225, where are those located? Are those outside? Somebody's house? Are those in a random parking lot? Are these folks volunteering to keep their own fridges outside? I'm not sure how this works. 

Laine: We don't, we're not really we didn't come up with the idea for the other refrigerators and everything. But there are 2 other refrigerators in Baton Rouge. They have social media. I think it's called community fridge is their social media tags. And they it's not, I don't think it's outside of anybody's house. It's. all kind of donation based. And so for us personally, we just have the pantry. We don't have a fridge. So all of our all of our donations are going to be like canned foods, dry foods and things that can't go bad quickly. So that way they stay fresh for anybody that wants to come get those donations. 

Pepper: That's fantastic because I was really wondering about that. You know what? This is just stuck in my head because I'm thinking fresh food for kids, but fresh foods for adults as well. If y'all aren't worried so much about the, about things going bad, then it's a lot easier. All right. So do you take then things that are perishable and donations, or is it just shelf stable? 

Laine: It's for now, it's just shelf stable. And then things like the blankets, the hand warmers and things like that for people to come and grab as well.  

Pepper: That's actually pretty brilliant. The hand warmers are pretty important, especially as the temperatures are dropping. So there's supposed to be a freeze up coming up. Do you have any plans to for distribution? Is there some place that or some way that our folks can hook into some of the programs or the initiatives that you might have coming up in the short term? Or is it just.  Get full court press, push it out through social media and see who shows up. 

Laine: I think the plan was to do the full court press and see who shows up. We are releasing a press release next week to several partners. We connected with the Baton Rouge business report. So we're trying to get it out to several people community leaders, things like that to to have people there. And the library is also going to send out a couple of things to get people there as well. 

Pepper: Beautiful.  All right, so do we have any other questions? It looks like I think I've hit most of them. If I've missed anything, please do let me know. While I look for something to send over Casey, is there anything you want to chime in on?  

Casey: Oh, there are so many things I'd like to chime in on from today. However a lot of the great things that needed to be said that were set, and I just want to thank all of our speakers, not only for saying a lot of the things Nichola as said, but also Laine, it's really cool to connect with you and to understand the depth that y'all are moving this effort towards. I applaud it. Good old fashioned grassroots. And I know that our other other change maker had to drop off, but really cool grassroots work that seems to be tied into bigger systems work. And that's how we all pull in the same direction. And so it's all needed. And as far as we would turn down money to feed kids. 

Pepper: I appreciate that you muted yourself. Makes my life easier. If I don't have to do it for you. Yeah, that we would turn down money to feed kids because, there's always  we wait running. I'm going to need an explanation. We Cannibal on government. What is happening here? 

Rodneyna Hart: WeCannibal It is an arts location. There's a gallery. They do happenings. They do all kinds of really cool community events. It's  a great space to convene around. You can meet if you are a cannibal or just, everyone else,  but no it's a fun place. It's run by some students from LSU. They are. Great. And they are really putting community first in creating art spaces and they do have a community fridge. It is, open to anyone who needs it wants it and it's accessible because it's right there on government street. 

Pepper: Got it. All right. So I have a fundamental and possibly stupid question for the things that are shelf stable, particularly those things in cans. Do you provide can openers? Do you take can openers as donations? And I only ask the question, because it is top of mine. I actually bought a can and couldn't open it and then I had to go buy a can opener and they're hard to find y'all the ones that actually work the ones that you can take out camping it. It's just it's a thing. 

Laine: And so asking about the shelf stable for the can openers, because  that is a wonderful question. Actually, it's not dumb at all. So we encourage people to bring cans that are easily accessible that don't need a can opener. I would, I'm actually going to check with the library and some of our partners to be sure that can openers would be okay to have in there because that is a, that's a great thought. For now we are I've collected a ton of cans that are just.  Pop top. They're not. Yes, exactly. So I would need to check in on the can openers, but that's a wonderful thought.  

Pepper: All right. And I know that there have been movements. You give socks give the Vaseline give, things that'll, seal your skin so that you're not drying out. What. Other sorts of things besides hand warmers should folks be thinking about maybe you're donating that you might have extra that you might want to throw into a a bag and bring over to you.  

Laine: Hygiene products, feminine products lotions, dish soaps, wipes, things like that deodorant, toothbrush, hand sanitizer masks, toothpaste, baby formula, baby food, diapers.

Pet foods and treats just things like that, that people can easily come grab that, like you said, you may have extra of but just some daily things people might need to be hygienic and things like that. 

Pepper: And thank you very much. So if you are buying a house, Lance Dax donates 100 pairs of socks for every home sold. FYI. You could probably just buy the 100 pairs of socks, but if you're gonna do it to make it worthwhile. Where's Morgan? 

Morgan Udoh: Hey friend! Ah, hey friend! Yes please, would you share with us the fridge that makes all contraceptives?  Yes each, like I said, each bridge has, is run by its own community and takes a variety of things based on the initiatives that they're trying to meet. And Yes, We Cannibal also does take drug testing strips for safe Drug habits. I don't want to get into all of that, but  proper care for those who are struggling with addiction as well as toiletries, contraceptives Plan B's, etc. You donate what you are comfortable with, but those are the things that they ask for. As for the thing, the community fridge that we are installing through the Walls Project,  this afternoon on,  Excuse me, on Saturday, I'm out here checking out all the sites, so I'm a little jumbled. We will be installing a fridge in there, and the New Look grocery store owners, along with the community that's within a mile radius of the fridge will be maintaining it and volunteers will be helping us to paint it, to beautify it, and then they will set the rules for what they would. Dropped off. I know that the Howards have specifically requested fresh veggies whenever possible. And knowing that our Baton Roots farm is right down the road. I know they have access to harvest and grab things for their residents over the summer months cooling towels are really helpful. Water Gatorade and Pedialyte packs are really helpful to keep people hydrated when it gets unbearably hot  and that's all I have for now.  I'll keep things, I'll keep y'all updated as they adjust what they need in different seasons. 

Pepper: No, thank you. That's brilliant because it sounds like most of that is shelf stable, right? So if you yeah, sale, you can drop it in any  community fridge or any sort of access and that way folks can get it or take it when they need it. Thank you, Tyler. There's a community fridge inside the Scottville library as well. And this is absolutely brilliant. Fridges that are used for all sorts of interesting things. More than just, it's not just for food anymore. So yeah, it looks like we've got a call to action that's happened over here in the chat to try to figure out how it is that we can get those dollars into Louisiana. Whether it's  whether it's Nichola leading the charge, very Joan of Arc ish because that was just, it's a bridge, who needs to hear me. And we will see what we can't do. Sharita, I don't know if you are overstepping, but we will figure it out because we can. All right, folks. Thank you all very much. And so if we are, if some of us have things to donate, that is one thing that you can do this weekend in Baton Rouge. Otherwise, what  else is happening over the weekend, y'all?  Community announcements. What's going on?  

Helena Williams: off mute so I'll go on. So of course, a lot of people know about it but just making sure you guys all know we got MLK fest happening in the Eden Park neighborhood. Morgan and I are coordinating where we reached our capacity on volunteers. But if you have any supplies that you want to donate water trash bags. A rake, anything that can help us with the lot cleanup. And we're also doing some mural paintings. So if you have brushes you want to donate, that's great too. And yeah, and I just want to make a note that there we are watching the weather for Monday. We're trying to keep a close eye to know what kind of activities we can do on Monday because there might be scattered storms. So just wanted to vocalize that because I'd hate to miss out on everything but we just have to follow the weather, but we're excited and we're happy.  We want to see everybody there.

Pepper: Awesome!  Marcella? Marcella Hernandez? Where'd you go?  All right. We'll come back to Marcella. 

Marcella Hernandez: I'm sorry. I'm here. My cell phone freeze froze for a minute and I was just trying to get it work. I'm so sorry. Okay. This is just really quick. We are working in partnership with different institutions to do the free love clinic for this year. We're very excited because this is a collaboration. And we're joining the team and I am making this announcement that because we are looking for volunteers I'm going to put the registration link on the chat. The free clinic is going to be on February  17th  at the Louisiana Leadership Institute. That is located on Hooper Road and if this year we're going to do it one day only is going to be from 6 a. m. to 8 p. m. And we're going to be having dental or vision and medical so please, if you would like to volunteer. Or if you are a medical provider or know any type of medical provider who would like to come and volunteer either vision and ophthalmologist or a dentist, a hygienist, or any type of medical field, if you would like to volunteer your time. Please register. I'm going to put that link on the chat. Last year, they had over 800 people. This year, we're expecting the same. So please take one day out of your busy schedule and come and support this very important, essential activity for our community's well being. Thank you. 

Casey: Thank you, Marcella, and Happy New Year, because I haven't gotten to see you yet. Greetings, my friend.  Dr. Vosper, I saw that you came off mute, and then we'll kick it over to Morgan.  

Dr. Lisa Vosper: Yes, good morning, and Happy New Year to everyone. Thank you all for doing this. I try to hop on as much as I can, but this is such a benefit to the community. I wanted to just mention, in case it hadn't been mentioned already, that United excels. Social Justice Institute is having an MLK brunch tomorrow,  is it today, Friday? Yeah, tomorrow, and the speaker is Donna Brazil will be their keynote speaker, and they're giving out torchbearer awards and some other things, but I did want to at least put that on the calendar, and I'll send you. Casey the flyer in case folks are interested.  

Casey: Awesome. Thank you, Dr. Vosper. And if you and I just want to celebrate for our mutual colleague and friend. Folks one of the most exciting things that doesn't sound exciting on the surface, but one of the most exciting things that has happened in the state of Louisiana to start the new year is that Susie is now the secretary of the Department of Labor for the Louisiana Workforce Commission. She is a serious human being, folks. This is no joke, and that is going to be amazing. 

Dr. Vosper: I met with Madam Secretary yesterday and I am excited and buckling up for the ride. 

Casey: Get ready, everyone. Get ready in the LWDAs across the state. It is time to get federal funds into the hands of the people that they are intended for. And I am excited that Suzy has taken the lead. And yes, Madam Secretary will have our full support. Thank you, Dr. Rossberg for being here. Morgan, what you got? 

Morgan: Yes, please forgive me if any of this has been covered because I've been in and out of the call, but I wanted to make sure that I expanded a little bit more on the community fridge that we're installing at the pocket park. So we are returning to that pocket park  from our original work. In it in 2022, it was just a blighted lot that has now been turned into a basketball court for the neighborhood. It is very, it has a lot of pedestrian traffic, which is wonderful. There's a mural that was installed in 2022 and we are restoring. And expanding the basketball court substrate to include hopscotch, foursquare, and other informal games for the kids. And then just catty cornered to that space, right behind the convenience store, is a community garden that we also installed in 2022.  And we are backfilling that with additional dirt and getting that ready for the spring planting. So that All the fresh foods that come from that go into the convenience store free for the community and as well as the fridge. So it's a nice little circular agricultural economy happening right there.  

Casey: Awesome. Thank you, Morgan.  

Dr. Vosper: Would you have Morgan repeat the location of that Casey, please? 

Morgan: It is at the corner of 38th and Kane Street approximately 3898 Kane Street is the address.  

Casey: I believe that is a good place to break for the day, folks.  Pepper, if you agree,  I would like to thank our speakers again. I'd like to thank everything that everyone brought to this conversation today. And this is exactly the level that we will be continuing into Friday on. And and I would, this isn't it's important, the Fridays are important to come together and to learn and to share a space together, but it's the other six days out of the week where the work gets done.

And it's important for us to put our boots on the ground, our shoulders behind the work.



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