The Louisiana rice industry celebrates National Rice Month in Crowley with a 50,000-pound donation of rice to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Pictured here are, left to right, Philip Bertrand, of Farmers Rice Mill of Lake Charles; Robbie Trahan, of Falcon Rice Mill of Crowley; State Rep. Mark Abraham, of Lake Charles; John Dziurgot, with the Second Harvest Food Bank; Crowley Mayor Pro Tem Stephen Primeaux; U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins; rice farmer and Louisiana Rice Promotion Board Chairman John Owen, of Richland Parish; and State Rep. Johnny Guinn, of Jennings. (Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter)
Food bank donations highlight National Rice Month
The Louisiana rice industry donated more than 100,000 pounds of rice this week to feed the state’s hungry as part of National Rice Month.
Monday, south Louisiana rice mills donated approximately 50,000 pounds of rice to the Second Harvest Food Bank, and the Kennedy Rice Mill of Mer Rouge donated 48,000 pounds on Tuesday in West Monroe for the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana. The Richard family of Indian Bayou donated 4,000 pounds.
John Owen, chairman of the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board, said the donations are enough to provide 1.6 million portions of rice to Louisiana families.
The rice industry is a vital component of the state economy, Owen said, and it provides habitat for much of the nation’s migratory waterfowl.
“I’m proud of this industry, and I invite all Louisiana citizens to celebrate this month,” he said.
Second Harvest serves the needy in 23 south Louisiana parishes from Mississippi to Texas.
“The best thing we can have on the shelves is white rice,” said John Dziurgot, Second Harvest chief operating officer.
The Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana serves 12 parishes. Jean Toth, director of the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana, said rice is a healthy, versatile food that will provide many meals for families in need. “For a hungry family, rice is a great product to have on the shelf,” she said.
In Crowley, U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, read a proclamation from Gov. John Bel Edwards designating September as National Rice Month in Louisiana.
Sen. Francis Thompson, of Delhi, said in West Monroe that he was proud of the investment in rice production and processing in northeast Louisiana. He thanked the LSU AgCenter, Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain, the rice industry and producers for supporting Louisiana agriculture research and education efforts.
“Rice is such an important crop to Louisiana,” he said.
Rice mills in south Louisiana contributing to the donation were Planters Rice Mill, of Abbeville; Falcon Rice Mill and Supreme Rice Mill, both of Crowley; and Farmers Rice Mill, of Lake Charles. The Falcon mill also has agreed to donate up to 40,000 pounds in a match for every 5-pound bag of rice purchased by consumers in September.
Rice farmers Julie and Christian Richard, of Indian Bayou, donated 4,000 pounds of rice to the Kaplan Food Bank.
“Kennedy Rice Mills is excited to team with USA Rice Federation in support of National Rice Month and to be able to donate to the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana and proud to support our local farmers and community,” said Meryl Kennedy Farr, president of Kennedy Rice Mill.
Michael Klein, USA Rice vice president for communications, also provided details in Crowley about a 4,000-mile road trip to promote rice by traveling in a rice-themed pickup truck, giving away 3,000 rice cookers and rice samples. In addition, charitable groups and schools will receive rice donations, and 25 commercial rice cookers will be given to food banks.
The rice cookers are part of a campaign to get more people to find out how easy it is to cook rice, Klein said, adding, “One of the things we’ve heard from people during our research is that they’re intimidated from cooking rice.”
The tour will include Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin, then continue in Washington, Oregon and California before ending in San Diego in December for the USA Rice Outlook Conference.
Klein said the tour can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #RideWithRice.
At the end of the tour, the truck will be raffled off, Klein said. A maximum of 1,000 tickets will be sold for $75 each, or three for $200 or five for $350.