When Disaster Fuels Hunger

Volunteers distribute disaster relief boxes.
September 26, 2016
by Erin Brock


The Child Hunger Corps is a national service program designed to increase the capacity and capability of food banks to execute programs targeted towards the alleviation of child hunger. The objective of the program is to increase the number of nutritious snacks and meals served to children in need in local communities around the country. The Child Hunger Corps initiative is sponsored by the ConAgra Foods Foundation.

In August 2016, the sixth cohort of ten new Corps members were placed at Feeding America member food banks, bringing the current total to 40 Child Hunger Corps members working at food banks across the country. This post is by sixth cohort member Erin Brock, Child Hunger Corps member at Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana in Lousiana. 

On August 13th unusual and immense flooding hit southern and central Louisiana, affecting multiple parishes in Second Harvest of New Orleans’ service area and those around the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank

I started work two days later, coming into a storm of trucks, volunteers and staff members who had already been working all weekend to provide food, cleaning supplies and support to those affected by the floods. My desk sits in a front office; many community members come through each week in need of food, SNAP assistance, baby formula etc. My first week here multiple people who had been displaced by the flooding showed up, unsure of where or how to get food assistance or even how long they might be in the area. About a month later, things have begun to calm down here at the office, but it will take months or years to rebuild the houses lost and the lives interrupted by the disaster.

Through all of this, I can’t help but think about the fine line between having enough and going hungry.  Of people affected, some were likely already food insecure, some may have never been food insecure in their lives, and many were probably in the middle – able to provide for their daily needs but not for the financial impact of a disaster. 

To be here at that time was, to say the least, heartbreaking and humbling, but it was also inspiring. To see the food bank working at full blast – the steady stream of volunteers, community members, and even high schools students dropping by with donations, and the dozens of phone calls from people around the country asking how they could help was absolutely amazing. No one knows when they might go hungry, but strengthening food and nutrition programs through organizations like Second Harvest is key to addressing this need from everyday emergency hunger to chronic hunger to disaster relief. I’m glad I can be here to help through it all.

Learn more about how Feeding America responds to disasters with food assistance and how you can help.