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OneRouge Community Check-In: Week 189

The Capital Area Food Equity (CAFÉ) Coalition is OneRouge's first anti-poverty coalition to stand up. The reason was (and remains) that everyone should be connected to healthy food. Poverty should not be a barrier to living a full and healthful life.

OneRouge firmly holds there is no such thing as deserving poor. But the idea that only some people deserve food, deserve shelter, deserve help is wildly held.

Please learn from our featured speakers who will talk about programs that center the most vulnerable of us.



Pepper Roussel: Good morning. One Rouge. Thank y'all for joining us.  

Casey Phillips: Yeah, no pepper. Thank you. Thank you for being here. Pepper. It is all about the pepper magic today. Pepper. What has a Share an amazing thing that has happened this week? I feel like this is the kind of week where everyone on this Friday before we get into the hard conversation because it's going to require everyone throwing their shoulder into this. With some joy. What is something that's been amazing this week in your week? 

Pepper: Soup has been amazing in this week. And I'm going to share this because it's a little weird and odd, but I'm going to say, I'm going to share it anyway. I bonded with a new friend over Julia Child's soups. I made my own super green soup. And I found a recipe for borscht that I am going to try before the weekend is over. Because, still cold.  

Casey: Fantastic. On the soup tip I made and had some chicken enchilada soup for the first time and it was quite delicious. Yeah, it was it was I got snowed in. I was in Dallas and got snowed in for 2 days and couldn't leave. And that's how it shook out. And, part of the result, unfortunately, of being snowed in and not being able to get back to Baton Rouge. I was not able to have the amazing moment. Of getting to watch Pat LaDuff be awarded the Petite Pisto Award on stage on Monday I would have wept openly and proudly to celebrate my friend. And Pat, I just want to make sure and give a standing O applause for everything that you have done over the last 3 decades in our city. And I hope that it was a joyous moment for you, my friend.  

Pat Le Duff: It was a joyous moment and I just want to say that's the great thing that happened to me within the last few days is getting that award. I was very surprised and it was very overwhelming and appreciated and hats off to you guys and everybody that's on the team that's always working to help people. 

Casey: Tackle each other to the ground because it's been so long since we've gotten to share space. And yeah, I couldn't be happier. And then just also want to say hello to Amy and Dr. Bell, Manny Fresh. I see Sheree is with us today, which is always a treat. I hope you have been doing well, and I'm going to turn it over to our distinguished colleague and fearless leader. Peppa, Tia, Helena, Ann, Patrick, everybody who's been working on behind the scenes over these last couple of weeks to get One Rouge off to a strong start. Thank y'all so much and Peppa, I turn it over to you.  

Pepper: Absolutely. I was waiting on somebody to say that they made gumbo. I didn't see anything in the chat about gumbo and I don't know what to do with this information. What sort of South Louisianians are you? People? Come on now. And you know what? There's Manny's judgy hair. I don't know. But anyway thank y'all for being here on this fine Friday morning. You know how much I love seeing you and appreciate you spending time with me. Short version, long story is that as we have conversations about food in any form there are folks who don't have enough and never do. But to say politely, we also have this idea of a deserving for folks who work hard and, just fell on hard times. And then at some point, we don't think that some deserve as much as others. And so this conversation is really  To talk about those folks who need a hand that they can't provide to themselves and the services that are available to them. And how we might be able to, as a coalition to help out just a little bit. And so we will start with Brian. Please let us know who you are, what you do, and how we can be involved. Your five minutes starts now. 

Brian Sleeth: Great. Hello, everybody. I'm Brian Sleeth, executive director of the Christian Outreach Center of Baton Rouge. We are an organization that was started in 1991 out of St. Joseph Cathedral to address the need of those experiencing homelessness in downtown Baton Rouge at the time. And over time, other churches got involved 1st Prez, 1st Methodist, 1st Baptist. And just the evolution over the years we also started our purple cow stores back in 2004 was the original 1. and then we started another 1 at Perkins and South Acadian 2014, and then 1 in Denham Springs in 2021. And all of this is 1 organization and so we exist in the space that tries to help people who are experiencing homelessness, which I myself experienced back in the great recession. And. We are essentially  providing 2 services. We provide essential services, which is what food insecurity falls into. And then we try to provide some sort of. Some sort of stabilization so that we can get folks then over to the sustainability services, which for us is employment case management, job readiness and financial education. If you look at all of the Needs that surround someone who is living in poverty, who is at risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness certainly, part of the essential things that have to be nailed down is food as well as transportation, housing it's all connected. You can't really just pull 1 out without addressing the others.  And for the folks that we try to help we provide a and there are a lot of food pantries around the area and things like that. We, on a weekly basis, provide a grocery assistance program, which we are in partnership with the food bank, which we're very grateful for. We get fresh meat, fresh produce, essential food items, dry goods, and those are bagged up each week.  And so those items are then taken by a food delivery service straight to people's homes. And why that's important is because people who are experiencing poverty and who are even living slightly above that, and what is known as  the Alice population transportation's a huge issue. So just having everybody go to a food pantry, if you don't have transportation,  that becomes a little daunting. And the delivery of items has proven to be helpful. And so we try to get people to take part in our programs such as our job readiness and financial education to try to increase. Their capacity to improve their situation. Food again, it's an essential part of someone's stabilization. And but again, it has to be looked at, I think, and. And connection to housing and transportation and everything else.  And another thing that we also do, by the way, is we have a person re, entry ministry where we take our job readiness and financial education programs and we help people who are pre release and and who are recently released. Yeah. We're happy to exist in the space with everybody else. And we need to again, look at solutions that are not just in the area of food, but as it connects to transportation, housing, employment and everything, health care and mental health and everything else. 

Pepper: I feel like you just gave a commercial for One Rouge Coalitions, but we're going to come back to that. The the whole idea of the re entry population, as I mentioned earlier, the deserving poor, a lot of folks don't think about what the challenges are re entering once you've been incarcerated, not just for yourself, but also for others. for your family and for anybody who might be supporting it. Yes, I thank you for the work that you do. And I want to kick it over to Mike Manning. There you are over at Food Bank. You're Mike, please let us know you are what you do and what we need to know about all of it. Your father says now. 

Mike Manning: Thank you. I'm Mike Manning. I'm president and CEO of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. I've been here for 20 years now. We are basically a walmart distribution center. We are the equivalent of that. We distribute food to over 120 agencies that are in the communities where the need is. So they're the equivalent of a Walmart neighborhood market for us. They are the front line of actual contact with most of our clients. Our focus is gathering as much food as possible, especially looking at nutritional quality and getting it to those agencies to get it to individuals who need it. It's really that simple. The other things we do, we have some other programs. We have a senior focus program that provides food directly to seniors. And we also have some additional program. Food is medicine is a new one. We've been working with health care systems as they identify people who are food insecure that they can connect and we provide a box to them immediately and then they can connect with one of our agencies. To get ongoing assistance as we look forward. Some of the things we're looking at doing or we're looking at whether a community kitchen is something that the Baton Rouge area really needs to have. And then what do we do with that? And how do we leverage that into ensuring that kids? are fed in schools and the kids have before and after school meals. So it's really just a logical progression and expansion of what we do during disasters. We do that again and we just distribute it to anybody we possibly can or anybody who really needs it. And it's one of our strong points in that we don't care. We just want to make sure people are fed. The board that we have in place is very focused on How do we deliver better? We're looking at things like mobile markets. We're looking at things like direct delivery to individuals who may be homebound or other options that we can take advantage of. The Pat's going to talk about some of the more pressing issues at the state level with EBT and other things that help us, but we do SNAP outreach. We help people sign up for SNAP. We do nutrition education with children and with seniors. So we have a myriad of Alternative processes and programs that we try to focus on to get to the core issue of food insecurity and hunger. But we also want to look at some of the other things we want to explore. I talked about this several years ago with Major Brett Meredith at Salvation Army and he and I were going to move forward and then we both got flooded. So I'm hesitant to talk about it again, but getting some, a one stop type setup. Yeah. Where we can get wraparound holistic services to individuals so that they can get everything in 1 place. They can get food assistance. They can get maybe some health care. They can get financial  guidance. They can get other things. Daycare, other things, other training, anything we can do in a 1 stop operation to be able to provide people opportunities to not be in our line anymore and not need assistance from us. That challenge with inflation and the continuing. Lower inflation, but the significant change in the prices of everything has significantly impacted a large number of our customers, our clients. And we are seeing, we've seen more people get back in line, many of whom who had been in line, but had gotten out of line weren't needing assistance anymore. And now they're having to come back just because of the prices of everything and their wages not because of that. Keeping pace and not increasing at the same rates. Yes, inflation is lower, but the impact is there and individuals who are on, we're on that bubble are now suffering and struggling more because of the fact that  inflation is still going, but they never caught up. It's continuing to get worse and until we can figure out how to address those kinds of problems, we're going to have an increasing population in need of food. 

Pepper: Yeah increasing population and need of food. It's wild. It's wild the way that we don't, that we have too much and not enough and we're doing all of the things and nothing all at one time. It's pretty wild. Yeah. So I was actually, I was saying before the call started that volunteering with food bank is one of the few places that I can have my kids volunteer over lent. So it was my youngest was nine at the time and there are limits on age limits on where you can bring kids to volunteer. And and I say this as I think about it now, You're not living inside of my head. I stopped giving up things because it was getting me no closer to Salvation nirvana to write that doing things suddenly became something that was helpful. And so  Bringing my kids and helping and having them either cook meals or provide services became a thing and so I encourage everyone to go and spend some time handing out meals and doing things that are useful. And I also, before we go, I do want to hear, hopefully, from Lori about their immigrant population and what does food insecurity mean for them, what services I know that they have available. But before we do Feeding Louisiana, Pat please let us know who you are, what you do, and what we need to know about it.  

Pat Van Burkleo: Sure, I'm Pat and I'm the Executive Director of Feeding Louisiana and Feeding Louisiana is the state association of the five food banks in the state. We're really blessed in Baton Rouge to have Mike and his team. I'm just going to plug one of the things that their innovation is, cutting edge across the country is we had an opportunity to buy bulk rice at a real huge discount. We send it to Mike and Mike can repackage that rice and send it out to all the food banks cheaper than we can buy individual package, right? Greater Baton Rouge is really doing some innovative things with some of their products and technology. We really appreciate that. That's Mike's not only impacting Baton Rouge, but the whole state with those kind of programs. Very innovative. He's not only doing it in Louisiana, but he's doing it across food banks across the region. I'm really here to talk to you guys about summer EBT as many of you guys know, during the pandemic the USDA provided families who kids were on free and reduced lunch EBT car with money on that that program has ended. The USDA has started a demonstration project for summer EBT and the demonstration project really means that states have an option to come in or out of this program. This program had a January 1st deadline for all states to say whether they wanted to be in it or not. That deadline was really to give USDA kind of a, an idea of how much this program would cost. And then there was a second deadline that states could opt in whether they filled in their application January 1st or not, February 15th, they would have to submit an administrative plan to the USDA on how to run a summer EBT program. In the state of Louisiana, we had to get a sign off between the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Education to run this program.  USDA. These are again all federal dollars that are coming into the state. But there is an administrative match that 50 percent of managing this program would have to come from state dollars. We think that if Louisiana chose to do summer EBT, it would impact about 560,000 students across the state. They would get 40 a month during the summer. And so that would bring in I don't know, $71 million into the state if we would do that. We know from national data that every dollar spent on Snap generates about 150 to $180 in economic development. That would be about 128 million dollar economic impact to the state of Louisiana. If we would do this program. Unfortunately, when we deal with kids and hunger, we talk about entitlement programs. If we were to put this in economic development, and we said that we could have to invest in this, people will be jumping all over this program. But unfortunately, it's in an What a quote unquote entitlement program. And so there's some more political football and I will tell you that the Department of Children and Family Services is ready and able and has the capacity to run this program. And so we really appreciate their support and getting ready for this. The Department of Education is where we have a hold up. They have not signed off on this program. They have come up with a number that is going to cost them 7 to 10 million is the number that we have heard, which I think is extremely high for a three month program. But be that as it may and they said they were not willing to make that commitment to the state while we had this new administration with new BESE board members coming on and a new governor and those kind of things. So we are stuck on this program not happening in the state of Louisiana. So what we are encouraging everyone to do is call Dr. Bromley, call your BSEE board members to ask them to move office center and make this investment in kids.  We know mostly kids in rural communities that don't have an opportunity to participate in summer feeding programs. This would be a huge help as Mike talked about groceries going up. So having these additional dollars and family budget would be a huge asset for us and help them. We can look at this as. This same population has usually has a huge summer learning loss and then if you put hunger on top of that, these kids are not going to be well nourished, learned to come back to school in the fall. So we think it's really critical that kids don't go hungry in the summer and that we offer this program. I'm going to, if you don't have direct contacts with any of your BESE board members. Or know, Dr Brumley that you can make a phone call. There is an action form that you can fill out to type in your name, number, and an email will be sent to them automatically with choice words saying,  Hey support this we do have a small, again, a small window of opportunity to to February 15th to get this done. And the The management plan shouldn't take too long for them to write. It's really an outline. Everyone I've talked to at USDA, since it's a new program, is really willing to help. USDA came in and talked to the department about this. So we have not heard a definite no. So there's still an opportunity for our voice to be heard to get this done. So summer EBT, I think is critical. And so I'm going to encourage everyone to  call save the children also has a similar, advocacy program going on. Someone may have dropped that in the chat also, but really, yeah, 

Pepper: I was actually looking Crystal Ellis. I don't see your face anymore, but I know you're around here somewhere dropping stuff in the chat for us. And please let me know if you want to come off chat, come up mute and say a few words about  fantastic. Come on. 

Crystal Ellis:I can come off mute briefly. Good morning everyone. I'm Crystal Ellis, the state manager for State of the Children Action Network. We are the political advocacy arm of Save the Children, the humanitarian Relief effort. I just wanted to add that we did drop in the chat that we have a petition going directly to Dr. Brumley at this time as well, so I placed that in the chat if anyone body wants to circulate that with their network in addition to the email. I also want to add that I did have the opportunity to ask Dr. Brumley face to face yesterday what his position was. And I echo what was just stated that he says that it would take a 7 to 10 million investment from the state in order to implement this program. And he was reluctant to do so prior to the new administration, assuming leadership. I asked him what his current stance was now that the new leadership was in place. And he said that if Governor Landry wants this program and can identify the funding that his agency stands ready to implement this program. What we do know though, is that he independent of any politics, he does have the authority to sign the notice of intent. So we need to put some pressure on him to do at a time when our state does have  a small surplus, this is a great investment in our kids and in our economy.  

Pepper: I just want a clarifying question before we go too close. God bless America. Why is that dingle disturb not on? Anyway, clarifying question two actually. So we keep saying if we sign and then we've brought into letter of intent. So are we  saying that we wanna do this? Are we not saying we wanna do this, are we, if we don't have the money to do it, then we say we wanna do it, then what do we do?

Crystal: So in reference to the notice of intent, in reference to the notice of intent, the notice intent is a prerequisite for the program. And the administrating agencies that would have to be able to sign on to the notice of intent, that includes DCFS and the Department of Education and from what we're hearing, DCFS is ready to roll. Obviously, Dr. Brumley and Department of Education are to hold up.  

Pat Van Burkleo: I will tell you that what we've heard from the Department of Education is that this is going to put an additional burden on the local schools and school systems. That right now, USDA, most of the kids in Louisiana eat free and reduced lunch or now free lunch in Louisiana. And they don't have to fill out a form because they live in poverty and their schools are in poverty. So every one of that school system eats lunch for this program. The USDA is going to require families to fill out a free and reduced lunch application from our understanding. So if this happens, then we need to make sure that we're out in the community telling families to fill out the form, fill out the form, fill out the form. And then the school system has to send that to the Department of Education, the art Department of Education has to verify that. And then that goes to the Department of Children and Family Services to disperse the money, but it can happen. It's a, families, we know families can have the ability to do this. It may be some confusion. And this is not to be confused with summer feeding program. There's some talk about that. This is summer EBT loading dollars onto an EBT card for groceries, which would benefit  grocery stores in their communities, their community stores in their communities. And again, mostly in rural communities where there's not a whole lot of options for summer feeding programs.  Food costs are usually higher in rural communities. This is a huge benefit for them.  

Pepper: There's a question in the chat. Is it 40 per student per month or is it per month per household? 

Pat Van Burkleo: It's 40 per student per month. 

Pepper: And how does this impact, and this is for every child, and I'm asking specifically for now that I can see Marcella's face, I'm asking specifically for undocumented or immigrant children. Do they qualify as well? Or 

Pat Van Burkleo:  That's a good question. Do we know? I don't know that. I would think that  yeah, of course I can make a guess, but I don't know.

Pepper: Not a problem. There are a couple more questions I want to get to. So there was one that was early on we have a one stop organization in place. Where can their efforts be improved to expand to help other organizations?  This is coming from James Carter. James Carter. Do you want to come off mute and give us a little bit more context for your question?  I will take your silence as a looking for the mute button.

James Carter: For the mute button. Sorry. Yeah, one stop organization right? Not too far from the Christian Outreach Center. And my question basically had to do with how we can support that organization to expand that mission. To help feed and support some of these organizations with some of the things that have been talked about this morning that was basically my question. 

Pepper: For any of our speakers what can we do as organizations in order to support yours? 

Pat Van Burkleo: I will tell you that, as Mike will attest, that most of the food distribution that goes out into the community are going out to volunteer led pantries. And they're not Hope Ministries that have a staff that do that. They're mom and pops that are in their churches and in their communities. And those people need help. So volunteering locally at your pantry or bringing your services to a local pantry would be a huge benefit. And Mike has, Mike talked about being a distribution center. Some of these pantries are open, third Tuesday of the week from 7 to 11. And it's very specific. And they need more assistance. The pantries are the heartbeat of food distribution. And we rely 100%, almost 100 percent on volunteers to do that. So any services you can bring to pantries and reach people would be great. We currently have a Medicaid outreach program trying to get people to sign up on Medicaid. So we have staff going to those pantries, helping them. So there's a services that you need to reach to going to the pantries during food distribution is a great resource.  

Pepper: Gorgeous. And Marcella, before we go too far please talk to us. About the programs that you have through Lori that deserving for in mind how are y'all getting food to immigrant community? 

Marcella Hernadez: Hi, good morning, everyone. So first of all, it's important to clarify that addressing food insecurity for immigrants is so much different because it requires a comprehensive and empathetic approach that takes into account those very unique challenges that our community faces. And then also includes a cultural aspects of it. When we talk about  food insecurity we've got to take in consideration culture that's definitely a must. Some of the challenges that our immigrant community faces are, of course, transportation, not being able to go to from one place to another place and obtain You know, some food they might want to go.

They might be in a humongous need, but they just don't have transportation to go also language barriers. There's a lot of information and resources that are available. But unfortunately, if our community. Don't speak the language that will not be informed. They will not know about those resources that are available. And then also that's tied up to the lack of social networks. Here at Lori, we do our big effort to outreach as many immigrants as possible. But a lot of the folks out there don't really know about those resources that are available. And then, of course there's a lot of fear because some people believe that  when they go to a food pantry and they're being asked for to fill up a form, they're just afraid of disclosing personal information. So food security sometimes is tied up to the fear that people have. For the system, and sometimes they just prefer not asking for help. That way, their information is not being shared with institutions that could potentially help them. And I think another big issue is the culturally attuned food. We, we come from different countries where we eat different foods, and a lot of the foods that we eat are usually fresh food and vegetables and sometimes people When they're looking out for food security, the different foods that they can find at the different local food pantries are not the same foods as the ones that we eat back home. It's not they're no good, it's just they're different from the foods that we eat back home. So that's just something to be considered as well. We have done different initiatives to address this issue. Of course, every time that I hear about a new initiative, I share it with our community. During the summer we have our summer enrichment camp and we were able to secure breakfast and lunch for our campers. We had food distributions last year. We had a partner from New Orleans who called me and said, Hey, we have food. Do you want this? Do you want potatoes? Do you want this? And it's crazy. Like one phone call away, 150 bags gone in 30 minutes. It's amazing that the, you know how much food you can give and how appreciative people are from going into the communities, not waiting for people to come to you, because we're not only addressing food insecurity, but transportation issues at the same time, and being knowledgeable and understandable of those specific challenges our community faces. And then also we have volunteer with different local food pantries and this year we're looking into a different approach and we're looking for a way that we can address the whole comprehensive issue around food access. So hopefully we're able to come up with something more stable. But there's one thing I wanted to point out since. Since I have this opportunity,  we have to be very careful also of the foods that are available for people and especially in school or food pantries. And I'm going to share with you an experience we had with our kiddos. I'm very grateful that we received our breakfast and lunches, but one day we received burgers, I believe it was, or biscuits and our kids came 45 kids came, and about 20 of them were not able to eat the food because the patties were pork patties, and a lot of our kids are Muslims. Those are things that are not usually considered on a daily basis. And I think there was a second time where it happened the same with pizza. So it was pepperoni pizza. And then one of my girls came to me and she said, I can't eat this because it has pepperoni. I said what's the issue with pepperoni? Pepperoni is not pork. And she said, it is pork. It has pork on it. And I kept on fighting with this 10 year old girl. I said, no, it's pepperoni. It's not pork. And she said let me look it up. And she looked it up, pull it up through Google. And I was like, oh my gosh. So it's just about educating ourselves and being very mindful that, culture plays a big role into food security, and, food security is a human right.

It should be taken as a human right, it should not be part of a political agenda, it should be just a human right, everybody deserves being fed, and not only just fed, but with good will and nutritional foods.  That's it.  

Pepper: Yeah I can't really help you about  Marcella. 

Tia Fields: I have a question as far as what have you received any support from DCFS in terms of enrolling anybody that's in your program with snap or are they eligible just looking for more context on their eligibility to participate in receiving SNAP benefits? 

Marcella: So thank you for asking that, and I'm going to be very polite on this. So yes, there's a lot of kiddos that qualify for food stamps, however, not every single children can qualify for  them. The eligibility criteria is tied up to other things that they request that some of our committee members are not able to provide. So for those. That qualified that have the proper documentation. Yes, we definitely we always send them to D. C. F. S. And I even have support with them. The food stamp application because that's a whole nother issue.  What in my community  people charges  about between 50 and 70.  For a food stamp application. That is another issue that we've faced, me, Marcela, that we've, that I'm fighting on a, like on a daily basis. Educating my community members that they don't have to pay for applications like Medicaid or food stamps.  But once we're over that, then we have the challenge of the documentation that they're being requested. And not only in terms of social security numbers, but also employment  And employment letters and proof of income. Those things are very challenging for certain populations. Yes. We do as much as we can to refer our people whenever we know that they're going to be assisted, but in some other cases there's not a way that will qualify. 

Pepper: So I know a couple of days ago Pat and I were talking about the snap gap. And not just for immigrant communities, but also for non immigrant communities, folks who've been here all this time, there seems to be a gap between folks who qualify, who actually meet the poverty standards, but those who actually do apply. Pat, can you help us understand a little bit more about what Marcella is saying?  

Pat Van Burkleo: Yeah, there's definitely, luckily a year ago, October Louisiana raised their eligibility for income to 200 percent of poverty. We were at 135 to qualify for SNAP, and so there's a real gap between those who now qualify for SNAP and who have applied for it. And so all of the food banks have SNAP outreach assistants, people who are going out into the community trying to help that. Beginning in Louisiana, we'll be starting a call center. That will have bilingual ability to assist people in applying for SNAP over the phone, because the 1 800 number from the state. Is huge little wait lines and times and we're trying to be a little more friendly and grassroots and providing that services, but there is a huge gap in Louisiana. I was going to try to pull up a map real quick if I could, but a families that qualify for gap for qualified for snap. And  who have that I'm going to share my screen. Oh can I share my screen real quick.  So if anyone is, it's okay. If anyone, we have maps that show kind of geographical communities of where we think this gaps are. And that's where our outreach workers are working. But if you're interested in looking at our maps and looking at this data, it's proprietary data. We're not supposed to really share too much of it, but it's urban footprint. The department of children, family services allows us to use these for outreach. But we definitely share them all the time. If you're looking for information on where specific neighborhoods that their gap is greater that's great in the state, there's about 300,000 households that qualify for SNAP that have not applied for it. So it's a big, it's a big lift that we were really working with.  

Pepper: So Brian, the folks that y'all are helping through your triage services, do they qualify for SNAP benefits or, and just haven't applied for it? Or do they not qualify?  How is this the same population that we're trying to serve or these different folks? 

Brian Sleeth: Yeah, it's meant to supplement those who are receiving SNAP benefits. Yeah, it's not meant to be it is definitely not meant to be someone's sole source of nutrition the weekly distribution program that we provide. Yeah.

Pat Van Burkleo: And the problem with Brian's clients are probably, is again, documentation. Do they have the information? Can they scan their? Information and get it to the department. So again, when we see more, the more disenfranchised you are, the harder it is to get those documentation to the state. So there is a new ruling with USDA to try to make that a little easier. And the state is actually trying to is piloting a new program that people can take pictures with their phone. And do that. So we're trying to overcome some of those kind of things. But again, if I'm homeless, I'm probably not going to have my child's birth certificate or my last three paychecks or all those kind of things that sometimes are needed to submit. 

Pepper: Wow, this is just so much. Yeah. Oh sorry. Give me a second.

Crystal Ellis: Let me say something real quick. Thank you. I don't have application support, but I did want to put out that I do have access to material in Spanish language that details the benefits of the farm bill encompassing SNAP and WIC. So if there's any organization that can benefit from those resources, please reach out and I'll get them to you. 

Pepper: Thank you much, Tia. 

Tia: This was a question for Brian or James. Does Christian Community Outreach still provide assistance with obtaining birth certificates or driver's license or identification?

Brian: We do. It's a part of our essential services. We do provide that, support for state IDs and and then also for birth certificates. We definitely do that. And also we're a I believe we are either in the process or we currently are getting online with being a portal for people to apply for snap benefits.  

Tia: Thank you for that information.

Pepper: Gorgeous. All right. So I'm hearing that there is a lot of things that need to be fixed, and there are some letter writing campaigns that are underway. Is that the way that we can help and support? This is for Crystal and Pat, and for Brian. What can we do in order to support your initiative? 

Pat Van Burkleo: I'll let Brian go.

Brian: Okay. One of our biggest needs, I would say, is volunteer assistance on Wednesday mornings that, is it possible for our staff to pull together the The bags that need to go out. Yes, but it is very, a very physical thing. And we definitely could use volunteers on Wednesday mornings. And if anybody would like to to do that, they can get in touch with our office to 225. 377 8582. So that's that, that would be a huge, huge boost for a lot of people. And I would think that, there it's always a question of capacity. The need is so great. And it just, the capacity to meet this need is with funding is just it's challenging because it's challenging funding wise. It's challenging spatial wise we assist about 135 households each week, but with our physical space, there's going to be a certain capacity as to how many people that can be helped. And I think that food distribution directly to people is very essential, such as our program. Again, we're tied in with the transportation issue that we've been that we talked about earlier. So there is again, the connectedness of these issues of, of. Getting the food into people's hands who may not be have that mobility to get to a food pantry. It just we've got to really think through what a network looks like for food and security 

Pat Van Burkleo: On the summer EBT.  I'm just gonna I'm sure Crystal will say the same thing your voice needs to be heard. Talk to your legislator. Talk to superintendent. Talk to the BESE board member. Call the governor's office. Call somebody because the more we talk about this, the more likely they're going to do this. And if you don't have direct contact, Crystal had a form Louisiana Anti Hunger Coalition had a form that we both dropped in the chat. Don't go today without doing this.Talk to somebody of some capacity saying Louisiana needs summer EBT and we need to move Department of Education off of this.  

Pepper: So wait, Crystal is our effort Is it best to contact the folks that we know or can get to on the BESE board and or Dr. Brumley, or should we be looking to trying to contact folks that we know who are in the governor's office in order to move them since I think I heard you say that Department of Ed is saying that if the governor has money to do it, then we'll do it.  

Crystal: I would say both, honestly, because I think that it benefits us to solicit a commitment from the governor's office. The Department of Education is heavily relying on their commitment.  But again, ultimately, Dr. Brumley has the authority to be able to sign the Notice of Intent, and we are on limited time. Reach out to both. 

Pepper: All right. I think I've hit all the questions in the well, actually, that's not true. I'm not sure this is a question, but, we're going to go with it from our very own Morgan. How can we apply mutual aid principles in order to get around the barriers that are in place to keep families from eating? 

Pat Van Burkleo: I will tell you that food banks and SNAP are safety nets. And so we've got to be working on higher things above that also, we need to be working on a living wage in Louisiana. And if we had a living wage, there wouldn't be the need for as much SNAP and there wouldn't be a need as much for food banks. Poverty drives us. And so we can't just try to figure out how to get more food to people. We need to figure out how people can live better in our state. And so if we had a higher minimum wage, if we had a living wage we had more job opportunity. Those are the solutions to hunger. Not provide, not getting more food in our communities, but lifting people out of poverty is the solution. 

Pepper: I have been saying for years that the economic driver of the state of Louisiana is poverty. And people have looked at me like I've grown a third eye. But it is true. And thank you for validating that. Appreciate that. And so there's also a question in the chat about the existence of a network database or pantries that the public can access. And Pat, you're saying that the food Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank's website does have a pantry list. Do we have? 

Pat Van Burkleo: They do. We put in the zip code and the list of all their pantries. They have a really good website is they partnered with a national organization called Vickery, I think is the name of it. And they have a great system of that you can probably call the food bank and talk to their agency services relation. And if you wanted a database or an Excel sheet with all those pantries in there. They should be able to provide that to you also.  

Pepper: All right. Before I hand this off to somebody else, I just want to casually mention that we'll be having a CAFE coalition meeting on Wednesday afternoon. This will be one of the topics of discussion for those of you who are already on our mail list, who are already inviting or already invited or have the cafe meeting on your calendars. You don't please let me, Ann, Tia, somebody at One Rouge know so that we can somehow mobilize around actually getting the contacts as well as, thank you, Helena, as well as  Making telephone calls. I don't know what it's going to look like because it's not my baby, but we're going to figure it out.  Casey, Helena, Tia, do y'all have anything you want to add?  

Casey: Other than a thank you to all the information that was shared, which my fingers Or none at the end for I had no idea. I had no idea all these hoops. I didn't understand how complicated this is. And Pat and Brian and Marcella thank you all so much. And crystal for the information that you all lifted up. Yeah, thanks so much. And this will really help moving into the cafe meeting on Wednesday as we move to action on encouraging. Not pressuring, encouraging the good people who are had their finger on the decision making trigger to do the right thing. So thank you all so much. Thanks. 

Helena Williams: And I put in the chat if you want to register. Also, if you put your email in the chat, I'll add you to be invited to the meeting. It is also listed on our website, our website as a calendar. Yeah, many ways to find it. Thank you so much. 

Pepper: All right. A lot of information, most of it overwhelming and slightly depressing. But you know what? That's just, the way it goes, especially, when we're talking about making sure that folks who are already being marginalized  are not pushed to the fringes, right? Reverend Anderson. 

Rev. Anderson: Good morning, OneRouge family. And I am going to do the thing I always do. Voting matters.  And when I put in the chat, and this is not an exaggeration that Marcella did a wonderful job of explaining, but that executive order has a chilling effect, like nobody's business. And I do recommend people find out what that executive order says. It is asking to create lists  of immigrants that are getting any state benefits or coming through any state systems. And it is going to have a chilling effect, not just on those at the lowest end, but for our university students, for our employees that are on H1Bs, etc. It is going to be devastating, and it is difficult sometimes for people to understand there's no way to avoid. The politics of doing good, but I cannot stress enough right now. Our legislators are sitting in the state capitol because of the redistricting session, and it is a really good time  to reach out to every single policymaker in the state.  about this issue because this weather emergency we just had, I was overwhelmed by the number of calls I got about seniors who were already living in substandard housing and could not get out. And so they're all wrapped in the same basket. The folk who are justice impacted Are also increasingly being eliminated from services, including services that are given by nonprofits, but get funding from governmental entities. I'm just going to say what I always say and what my friend Alfredo says, voting matters, but so does engagement in budgets  and relationships with policymakers. And if we want to change all of this, we've got to have those. 

Pepper: Listen, I would be remiss. We would all wonder what planet we live on. If we could win a Friday without hearing that we need to go vote. What else would we expect from the court watcher who became a court changer? So says NOLA. com and that link is in the chat. Congratulations to our very own Reverend Anderson. But she's right. Despite the weight of what she's asking, she is absolutely right. And so it is up to us to have many hands engaged to make it light work. That said, y'all we are coming real close up on 9:30. I know everybody's got to get back to work. Do we have any community announcements? Any, what's going on this weekend in Baton Rouge? While you're thinking about it, thanks to all y'all, right? Thanks to Pat. Thanks to Brian, Marcella for jumping in. Thanks to Crystal also for jumping in and sharing with us some information that we would not, and context that we would not have otherwise had, right? So as We see, at least, you know what, let me not project, as I see links to fill out this form and, add your name to this thing or do that thing, it's also it's also helpful to understand whether that is even making a change. And if it's helpful for some of us to go and pack some bags on Wednesdays with Brian, then I'm sure we can figure out a way to make that happen.  If it is helpful for us to make some telephone calls, I'm sure we can do that too. Mardi Gras in Scotlandville tomorrow? What are y'all doing? Mardi Gras is not tomorrow? You know what, Zoom user, Pat LaDuff, I'm not doing this with you today. Marcella? 

Marcella: Okay, so I just want to remind you next week ICARE has the annual symposium. This is going to happen on January 24th at Pennington Conference Center. It's going to be from 8 in the morning to 3:30 PM. I'm actually going to be presenting there. We're going to be talking about our youth, our children and youth. But also for mental health providers and social workers, they're offering free CEU. So if you are looking for them, register and go for free. And also we have partnered with the free love clinic this year, we're going to do it on February the 17th from six in the morning until 8 PM, and we are currently looking for volunteers. So if you would like to come and support what we're doing please register. I'm dropping those two. 

Pepper: Okay, but you muted yourself while you were dropping things in the chat.

Marcella: Oh, sorry. I just said, if you would like to come and give back to your community volunteering, please register. Thank you. 

Pepper: Fantastic. All right. We've got from Chelsea. Hey, Chelsea! Bob is on a mission, grand opening a new building space that's going to be  One p.m. What? What day? I don't know what day it is, but I know it's at one. Oh, it's tomorrow, Saturday at one p. m. And from Reverend Anderson HUD point in time survey, they don't need volunteers. Okay. Is Reverend Anderson, where are you? Is this just a survey that they need filled out and remind us what the HUD point in time survey is? 

Rev. Anderson: Yes. Good morning. Every year in January, normally, there is a very specific date that municipalities literally have to go out and physically try to count as many of the unsheltered as they can. And that particular count actually goes into the funding formulas that communities get. So it's a critically important one. Truthfully, it's a very underreported count, and we know that because it's literally a day in time, and this year, it is January the 22nd,  where The start corporation, which is Addie Duvall is our lead agency could really use help, especially from our nonprofit in our business community. We have a continuum of care system, which means if people are registered in that system, they are more likely to get wraparound services. And so for those businesses, and I can't stress this.  enough, particularly restaurants and small businesses that have typically been helping in a very informal way, but they know the location of people who are unsheltered. They need to contact start and get that information into their system so that they have some reliable places that they know that they need to be going. So we know that there are certain areas where, and I think this is true of each and every one of us, where we have routinely seen sometimes the exact same person. Sometimes there's just people there,  and that's the kind of information they need.  But the reality is that whether it is our library systems that and one, let me just give a big old cheer to Mary Stein and her team for stepping up in this disaster and opening the doors and saying they are friends, our family and our neighbors, and they needed to be the warming centers. Those places  are repositories of safety for our unsheltered populations. But the truth is, so are restaurants that have dumpsters. So are facilities that have overhangs, so we just have to make sure that they get as much information as they can to make the count as accurate as it can be. And Andrew Dietz from Louisiana Housing Corporation assured me this year they do not need volunteers, but we do need to get the information out so that People can help and then I'm sorry. Can I just say something very quick? This year, our super tax day is February 3rd. That is extraordinarily early.  In the season. And many of you know that employers have until January 31st to mail people's W 2s or 1099s. Please encourage people. They still need to go. They, there's a way for you to do your taxes, even if you don't have the physical document. So last paychecks, that kind of thing, but it is critical because you get back all of your money as opposed to paying people for the thing that is in fact free. So just wanted to give a shout out to that. 

Pepper: Fantastic. I'm all about super tax days, babies. All right. And last community announcement in the chat on the morning of February 3rd, BREADA needs some help counting visitors to the farmer's market. And the link is there for y'all to sign up. Otherwise thank you so much for sharing part of your Friday morning with me, you know how much I appreciate y'all being here. Thanks to everyone who is involved in who is now becoming more involved in or revitalizing their interest in cafe because capital food equity is what we are, what we do, and who we are. We will see y'all back here next week where we'll be talking about more important things that are of interest to the capital region. Same bat time. Same bat channel. Have a great weekend, y'all. Thank you, everyone. 




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