Louisiana has the second highest rate of food insecurity in the United States and is rising faster than the rest of the country. Forty-six of the sixty-four parishes in Louisiana have food insecurity rates of 15 percent or higher, and some as high as 34.4 percent. In New Orleans, 20 percent of people are food insecure. The national average is 11.8 percent.
A common and effective way to combat food insecurity is through food pantries. Although food pantries remarkably benefit hundreds of thousands of families nationwide, not everyone who is food insecure is able to use them. Most local food pantries have barriers to entry such as applications for use, proof of address and set hours of operation. Some even ask for phone, gas, and electricity bills. This leaves the estimated 1,200 homeless men, women, and children in New Orleans unable to utilize food services designed to assist those in need. In addition to the homeless, food pantries restrictions make it difficult for those who work all day and those who are afraid of the negative social stigma of receiving free food to make use of the costless meals.
Gladewave’s Big Red Boxes remove these barriers that prevent adequate food access to underserved areas. Anyone who is in need of food is welcome to use our boxes. They are reachable 24 hours a day, require no paperwork, and promote acceptance of all New Orleanians; no matter their financial or housing situation.
In addition, Americans often think about donating food during times of crisis and holidays, regularly overlooking other periods of the year. Big Red Boxes serve as a year-round reminder that food insecurity is uninterrupted. We hope that our local boxes will eventually be sustained by the communities surrounding them, maintaining a consistent food supply for those in need.