By Shanda Gann
There are many businesses that have been affected by Covid, especially non-profit businesses.
The Joe LeBlanc Food Pantry has been in operation in Webster Parish for 13 years. The mission of the food pantry is to serve people living below the USDA poverty level by providing monthly food assistance. The primary area served is Minden, but they also serve the surrounding communities.
UCAP, United Christian Assistance Program, is an inter-denominational coalition of Minden area churches. UCAP’s sole purpose is to provide emergency assistance to Webster Parish residents only and stranded transients.
Covid has affected many areas in the past including the food pantry. It is no longer affecting them, but could possibly be the reason for the types of food available at this time.
When asked about food shortages, Executive Director Jessica Lewis said, “There are no shortages, but the variety of food has changed. I am not sure if this has to do with covid or if it is just coincidence, but we’ve seen a lot of the same canned goods and tons of beans. What has been available to purchase just hasn’t had much variety to it.”
Improvements have been made in other areas. The distribution stations have been increased which has led to a shorter wait time in the line. This has cut their time frame from hours to about 30 minutes.
“I think we lost a lot of our clients because of the length of time it took to check in,” Lewis said. “We are hoping that with this change, that will take away this issue.”
Joe LeBlanc is currently booking groups for packing and volunteering for distribution. They are booked through April, but would like to book further.
Covid has affected volunteers at UCAP.
UCAP director Charlotte Jones said, “We’ve had a shortage of volunteers due to Covid. We are only open two days at this time instead of three.”
UCAP is distributing clothing one day a week at this time due to the volunteer shortage.
“Sadly, one of our volunteers passed away due to Covid last year, as did the husband of another.” Jones said.
At this time, UCAP has one volunteer who does data entry from home and another who only works to fill in. Many of the processes are now handled by phone.
Both UCAP and the Joe LeBlanc Food Pantry could use volunteers at this time.
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