Navy Week provides essential volunteer aid to local food bank

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Electronics Technician 1st Class Joshua Alewine and Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Frank Maldanado, both assigned to USS Louisiana (SSBN 743), pack food boxes at the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, in April 2015 for the first community relations project of Navy Week Shreveport. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey/Released)

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey, NRD Houston Public Affairs Officer.

Across the greater Northwest Louisiana area, senior citizens on a fixed or low income face a monthly choice.

Out of their three most essential needs – medicine, housing and food – which of the two can they afford? It’s a choice that leaves a critical need left unaddressed and ultimately a pivoting risk that places added stress to an already stressful situation that at any moment could spiral leaving a community elder in fear of being homeless, sick or hungry.

BOSSIER CITY, La. (April 25, 2015) Lt. Cmdr. Maura Thompson, supply officer of USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) at the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, the first community relations project of Navy Week Shreveport. Sailors from Navy Recruiting District Houston and USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) helped pack nearly 100 boxes that will be serviced out to any number of the 1300 citizens currently fed by the program. Each box weighed 45 lbs. and contained roughly 40 different dried food products. Navy Weeks focus a variety of assets, equipment and personnel on a single city for a week-long series of engagements designed to bring America's Navy closer to the people it protects, in cities that don't have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey/Released)
BOSSIER CITY, La. (April 25, 2015) Lt. Cmdr. Maura Thompson, supply officer of USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) at the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, the first community relations project of Navy Week Shreveport. Sailors from Navy Recruiting District Houston and USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) helped pack nearly 100 boxes that will be serviced out to any number of the 1300 citizens currently fed by the program. Each box weighed 45 lbs. and contained roughly 40 different dried food products. Navy Weeks focus a variety of assets, equipment and personnel on a single city for a week-long series of engagements designed to bring America’s Navy closer to the people it protects, in cities that don’t have a large naval presence. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Fahey/Released)

In an effort to help lift this burdening catch 22, volunteers from USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) and Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Houston teamed up with the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana Mon., April 27, to pack more than 3 tons of dry canned goods into 128 food boxes. The boxes will be hand delivered in the coming weeks among 1,300 seniors across seven parishes currently active in the food bank’s distribution program – saving them from having to sacrifice sustenance for medicine or shelter.

“On the day they expect these boxes, these shut-in seniors are waiting by the door,” said Gene Haynes, the food bank’s community relations coordinator. “They rely heavily on what we provide … and we couldn’t do what we do – period – without today’s volunteers.”

The local food bank receives donated food from both individual contributors and nearly all the major grocery chains allowing them to provide 8 million pounds of food to those in need each year. Navy recruiters stationed across these areas see the outcome of poverty through their daily interactions with the schools and communities they serve. The symbiotic nature of seeing a need and helping satisfy that need is indicative to the kind of positive effect those serving in America’s Navy are able to accomplish throughout the world and in their own backyards, said Aviation Storekeeper 1st Class Joshua Williams, a recruiter stationed in Shreveport.

“Being local to the area as a recruiter, I know the help all of us provide as volunteers goes a long way,” said Williams. “Smaller communities are always close knit and willing to help each other but manpower and availability can be difficult. We understand that, and it was great working alongside some shipmates from the fleet that thanks to Navy Week were able to be here. I’m excited for my fellow service members’ ability to show Shreveport what their Navy can do for them.”

Navy Weeks focus a variety of assets, equipment and personnel on a single city for a week-long series of engagements designed to bring America’s Navy closer to the people it protects, in cities that don’t have a large naval presence.