The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is working to raise between $7 million and $8 million to cover damages to its state-of-the-art facilities that took on roughly four feet of floodwater. President and CEO Mike Manning says, “We’re in uncharted territory.” Photography by Brian Baiamonte
“Right now we’re in the process of rebuilding a transitional housing 26-bed unit that is a key component of our drug and alcohol recovery program,” says Maj. Brett Meredith of the Salvation Army Baton Rouge Corps. “As it stands now, we need to raise $3.2 million to rehab our damaged facilities and to rebuild the transitional housing program.”
The agency has begun a fundraising campaign and has raised about $400,000 toward its $3.2 million goal. It is also experiencing a 25% increase in demand for services due to the flood, says Meredith.
The Salvation Army is best known for its annual Christmas bell ringers and kettles, and its thrift stores. Two of its three local stores flooded. Every year, the agency serves about 2,000 low income families with emergency food, clothing and other social services. Meredith says all funds raised by the local chapter stay in the greater Baton Rouge area.
“We know that 2017 is going to be a difficult year because there are only so many dollars to go around,” says Meredith. “But we’re going to continue to do the things we do and trust the funding will come. Cutting services is not part of our plan.”
Meanwhile, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is facing a bizarre new reality—raising between $7 million and $8 million to recover from four feet of water in its expansive warehouse and office complex. The food bank’s state-of-the-art facilities opened in January 2013 and were the result of a $12.1 million capital campaign that spanned 2008-2013. The campaign allowed the food bank to purchase and renovate a warehouse with double the capacity of its previous home. The agency distributes food to partner food pantries in 11 parishes.
Now, says president and CEO Mike Manning, it’s back to the drawing board. He expects insurance to pay for less than $1 million in damages and isn’t sure what, if any, financial support the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide.
“We’re in uncharted territory,” says Manning. “Disposable income among many donors right now is now being hung as sheetrock.”