New Zion Baptist Church has partnered with Three O’Clock Project to become a meal distribution site for St. Landry Parish students. The meals distributions at the church will continue every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to noon until May 28. One box contains seven days of lunches and breakfast. The boxed meals included frozen and healthy entrees. One gallon of milk, as well as fresh fruit, was given out to one box of food. Any child, enrolled in school, 18-years and under, is eligible for a meal. Students do not have to be present with their parent or guardian for the pickup. Many volunteers were on hand April 30 to help to distribute food to the vehicles. Volunteers included Fran Lemelle, Chad Lemelle, Cheryl Stevens, Mellanie Lemelle, Star Clavier, Linda Reed, Tawania Gallow, Anita Johnson, Lauren Brown, Michael Joubert, McKenzie Guillory, Sophia Cole, and JoJo Reed. According to Fran Lemelle, last Thursday there were 280 boxes of food given out. Lemelle said, From left, are Left Lauren Brown, Mellanie Lemelle and Chad Lemelle. (Photo by Myra Miller)
United Way’s ALICE is in focus as jobs disrupted
After two months of business slowdowns and shutdowns the United Way’s ALICE is sharp focus.
Ginger LeCompte, executive director of the St. Landry - Evangeline United Way, said, “You have about 51% of our population that is living paycheck to paycheck or struggling. That’s in good times.”
The United Way releases an ALICE report — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — that is a measure of the working poor in communities.
“We always say ALICE is one emergency away from financial crisis, Well, this is definitely that time,” LeCompte said.
“We are seeing a lot more struggling than usual. A lot more people are in the same boat as ALICE,” she said.
The St. Landry - Evangeline United Way has started a COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to help those who are in need.
“The Relief Fund has been established to provide food, supplies, relief for college students, health and wellness initiatives to the at-risk and vulnerable, safe-care packages to the elderly who are sheltering in place, and masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves to businesses and their customers,” a statement from United Way says.
“Rapid response operating grants will help fund human services organizations that have deep roots in the community and strong experience working with vulnerable populations. While funds will not be given directly to individuals, by supporting these organizations we will ensure neighbors receive the help they need whenever possible,” it stated.
LeCompte said, “With the loss of incomes either through employers having to lay them off, furlough them or shorten their hours or if they lost child care and couldn’t go back to work because of child care not being available you have different scenarios which at the end of the day have created this whole new dynamic of struggle.”
LeCompte predicted that even after businesses reopen the job market is going to be chaotic.
Blue Cross Blue Shield has given a $45,500 grant to the St. Landry - Evangeline United Way and $25,000 has been received from Delek Refinery at Krotz Springs, she said.
LeCompte said the 211 hotline in Louisiana has received about 70,000 calls and among the top issues for callers is food, homelessness.
The average household survival budget for ALICE households in St. Landry Parish estimates $17,064 is needed for individuals and $50,904 for a 2 parent/1 preschooler/1 infant family to afford the bare minimum. In Evangeline Parish those estimates are $16,848 and $50,532 respectively. While this exceeds the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) of $11,490 for a single adult and $23,550 for a family of four, ALICE can barely live paycheck to paycheck.
To donate to the COVID-19 Community Relief Fund visit the website at uwsle.org.
Call the United Way office in Opelousas at 337-942-7815.