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Barriere Construction & St. John Parish partner with Second Harvest to feed hundreds

LAPLACE — Food bank shutdowns from the COVID-19 crisis caused a sharp decline in Second Harvest Food Bank operations.

As of last week, operations hovered at about 20 percent capacity, making extra support vital to ensuring adequate food access in St. John the Baptist Parish. Barriere Construction Co. and the St. John Department of Health and Human Services thankfully stepped up to the plate and partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank to feed 450 residents last week.

The food distribution was conducted in a drive-thru format at the St. John Community Center in LaPlace.

Communications consultant Sarah Wicker said Barriere Construction typically hosts a spring picnic to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. Those efforts had to be refocused to meet the needs of the community after the coronavirus forced cancellations.

Second Harvest, Barriere and Health and Human Services have partnered before to distribute more than 200 boxes of food in St. John Parish. This time, with assistance from the National Guard, the partnership resulted in 450 boxes of food for families.

Pre-packaged boxes contained items such as canned goods, proteins, grains, milk, mixed vegetables, pasta, sauce, peanut butter, tuna, soup, jelly and waffle mix.

Wicker said corporate sponsors like Barriere give Second Harvest the funding needed to pay for the food that is distributed into local communities.

Barriere is a fourth generation company with locations in LaPlace, Baton Rouge, Boutte and Franklinton. Two generations of owners, Betty Wilson and her son Bert Wilson, have served on the board for Second Harvest Food Bank.

“They really are passionate about extending their culture of care within the community,” Wicker said.

A representative from Second Harvest said these distribution events have bridged the gap in connecting the community to needed resources.

He added that the poundage of food donated is based on the poverty level in the parish, and food distributions ensure locals have access to an adequate food supply while traditional food banks remain closed.

St. John Parish President Jaclyn Hotard and government representatives also assisted in the distribution.