Gulf Coast food banks still in high demand

October 26, 2010

NEW ORLEANS (RNS) Even with the deep sea oil hemorrhage halted and
much of the fishing in the Gulf of Mexico reopened, major charity groups
say the needs of impacted families remain dire.


Officials from the local affiliates of Second Harvest Food Bank and
Catholic Charities said members of the fishing, oil and service
industries are still hurting six months after the Deepwater Horizon
explosion. Perceptions that the crisis is over and that money from BP is
taking care of all the losses have detracted from fundraising, officials
said.


"It's a sustained 25 percent increase in demand," said Natalie
Jayroe, president of the food bank, referring to the number of people
asking for food help.


Second Harvest has distributed more than 610,000 meals to families
affected by the BP oil spill. Catholic Charities has served 35,277
people with food vouchers, mental health counseling, financial help with
housing costs and baby supplies.


"There seems to be a sense that help is pulling out of the region,"
said Steven Scheurich, vice president of customer service for Entergy
Louisiana, a local utility provider. "Unlike the hurricanes, the
financial outpouring has not come to fruition. The overall sentiment is
that it's BP's responsibility."


Scheurich announced a $100,000 donation from Entergy to Catholic
Charities.


Iray Nabatoff, director of the Community Center of St. Bernard, a
Second Harvest partner, said requests for food, clothing, assistance
information and computer laboratory sessions continue to rise.


"We're seeing the ripple effects of the oil spill and the cessation
of fishing activities right through the economy," Nabatoff said. "I
think we're still on the ascending end of this. I wish I could report
things are abating. On so many levels, it's actually more of a struggle
now."

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