NEW ORLEANS -- As these volunteers eagerly pack food boxes for the needy, you probably can't tell, but there's a lot of concern for this holiday season and beyond.
“We're not going to make it, and I'm so afraid someone's going to come and they're not going to have food, because I know what it means to take a can of soup and stretch it for the whole day and still be hungry,” said Debra South Jones.
That’s why Jones formed the "Just the Right Attitude," or JTRA, food bank 10 years ago.
She had been diagnosed with thyroid and ovarian cancer and promised God that if she survived, she would feed the masses. She started in her garage and began to fill a need. This year she's served over 77,000 hot meals and provided three million pounds of food baskets.
But now most of the shelves inside her New Orleans East warehouse now are empty.
“Because the food is not there,” Jones said. “The demand is so huge, and right now we don't have it.”
Jones said she gets a lot of her food from second harvesters, but they didn't get as much state support this year so they don't have as much food. She said her demand is 25,000 to 30,000 pounds of food a week, but the food bank is only getting around 8,000.
This week a couple of volunteer college students from Nicholls State saw just how much food is needed.
“Yesterday I think we packed 170 boxes,” said Mallory Naquin. “They're all gone. We had to start new today.”
“To see all the people and all the boxes that we packed and then to have no boxes, i was like ‘oh my gosh!" said Katie Willie.
And those who rely on it can't imagine not having it.
“I lost many thousands of dollars here this year, and they're helping us out,” said Jerry Broderson.
Giving out the hot lunches and providing the food baskets is the primary function of Just the Right Attitude, but they have a vision to be bigger and better and provide more services.
“Create a permanent home with a permanent building and expand it into other things, like battered women, and abused children, and fatherless children and job placement,” said Troy Duhon, a JTRA Board Member.
Jones said she's fought through hard times before, and with the help of new volunteers, donations and food drives, she'll get through this as well.
If you would like to help with food and money donations or to just volunteer your time, you can learn more by going to their website http://www.jtra.org.