Bill Capo / Action Reporter
NEW ORLEANS -- One hundred and thirty people sought lunch at the St. Jude Community Center. But very quickly the ravioli ran out, and the chef found the only thing left was to serve gravy on bread.
"I do my back-up plan. I do gravy and snap beans," said a worried Chef Derrick Sayles. "They don't have nothing else in the building to feed the homeless."
Desperate, they used part of their hurricane supplies. Their pantry for emergency food is virtually empty.
"We're resorting to having to pull out government meals because we have no food to cook," said center manager Glenn Turner. "We have no food to give away. Our pantry is empty. We had to close our food bank early."
They are one of 240 agencies across 23 parishes that get supplies from Second Harvest, but the food supply here is down 400,000 pounds, they say in part due to cutbacks from federal agencies.
"This place is pretty empty due to the fact that this space here holds about 13 truck loads of food, and right now as you can see we're only down to two truck loads," said Mamie Jackson, warehouse manager.
Parts of the warehouse look stocked, until you see the boxes are filled with cookies, crackers, and soft drinks. Second Harvest served over 4 million meals this summer alone, a 13 percent increase, but donations are down, and they're almost out of the staples hungry families need.
All you have to do is look at these shelves and you can see why they are urgently seeking help. But one of the products they are looking for most right now is peanut butter. There's not a jar of peanut butter in this entire warehouse, and it is one of their staples.
"140,000 cans less this year than last year, and we're expecting that that gap could grow by another 276,000 cans," said Second Harvest's Gerald Duhon. "We need it quickly and urgently." At the St. Jude Community Center, they're worried about next week.
"I see the sadness in people, even the little kids coming through here," said Sayles.