Roma Prejean, a Zachary Food Pantry volunteer, said donations such as the one from AARP are most welcome but are needed all the time.
Although the Baton Rouge Food Bank donates to the food pantry, it is in great need of many non-perishables plus food items such as canned corn, pork ‘n’ beans, rice and sugar.
“We welcome anything we can get from the community,” Prejean said. “Whatever we don’t get enough of, we have to purchase. Monetary donations are welcome just as much as food items are.”
Prejean said 100 percent of the money goes to purchasing the food. Everything from hamburger patties, chicken and hot dogs to detergent, rice and pasta, must be purchased if it’s not donated.
“The holidays are approaching, a time when people are very generous, but by February, the shelves will once again be bare,” Prejean said.
Prejean is very thankful for businesses like LeBlanc’s Food Store, which has been a very active participant by donating bread from their bakery, and Georgia Pacific, who donates paper products. Toilet paper and paper towels are delivered to the Rollins Road facility, next to the Zachary Community Center, regularly.
The Zachary Food Pantry hands out meals, sundries and paper products to qualified families every Tuesday, from 9 - 11 a.m. Currently, it feeds about 180 families. Seven years ago, when Prejean began volunteering, there were 40 - 50 families.
“We have grown from 140 families last year to about 180 families this year,” said Prejean. She said one family has nine people in the home. “There are several eight and seven-member families and lots of six, five and four-member families we feed,” said Prejean. “But 50 percent of our donations go to single elderly folks and elderly couples.”
Prejean said that if someone is in need of food, she ensures they have it, even if she has to deliver it herself. She can also be found at the food pantry every couple of days checking the thermometers on the freezers to ensure they are working properly. She said one of their three freezers is not working, and the facility is in desperate need of another one.
“If any of our freezers go out, all the food is lost, it’s ruined; we can’t afford that. We need everything we have,” Prejean said.
Prejean is hoping that someone who reads this story, will be willing to donate a freezer in good condition or sell one for very little.
If interested in donating or selling a freezer to the Zachary Food Pantry, please contact Roma Prejean at 654-0685 or 937-9916.
The Zachary Food Pantry is located at 5746 Rollins Road next to the Zachary Community Center. The 30 x 40 foot building is a welcome change from the 10 x 20 foot space several years ago. “We’re so happy to have a bigger building,” said Prejean. “Much work is needed on this place but still, it serves a great purpose.”
Prejean is dedicated to feeding the needy families and elderly folks in Zachary. She, along with six men and seven women, volunteer their time every week to make sure nobody goes hungry. There are about four people who take care of the administrative and intake paperwork for the pantry. This is done in the Zachary Community Center next door.
Since the food pantry does not have a phone, people are encouraged to contact the Zachary Community Center at 654-3164. Also, if anyone is hungry or a family is in need, they can call the Zachary Police (654-9393) and/or Fire Departments (654-0026) or the Chamber of Commerce (654-6777). Prejean says they will get the message to her that someone or some family needs food.
“As long as I’m here and living in Zachary, no one in this town will go hungry,” Prejean said. “If I have to clean out my own pantry and drive it to a person’s home myself. Zachary citizens will not go without.”
Food collection barrels for the Zachary Food Pantry can be found at the Bank of Zachary on Main Street and Winn Dixie on Hwy. 19 at Church Street.