LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The Salvation Army is currently the only place open for a hot meal. However, it would be an impossible task if it weren’t for the community.
Lt. LeAnna Marion, administrator and pastor for the Salvation Army of Lake Charles, said support from the community makes a difference.
“The difference is the personal protective equipment, it’s the education about COVID, the social distancing," Marion said. “Those are things that are completely against how we usually serve.”
During a natural disaster, there’s someone from Salvation Army who’s in charge of spiritual and emotional care, praying with members of the community.
Since Abraham’s Tent and the Calcasieu Parish School Board temporarily closed their feeding sites, the Salvation Army has had to fill the gap by providing lunch - a meal they haven’t provided before.
The non-profit organization normally serves breakfast and dinner.
Lt. Marion said the amount of people they are serving during lunch has increased dramatically.
“The School Board was serving 2,000 students for meals daily, and then Abraham’s Tent was 75 and up from there and those numbers are just like multiple times what we serve on a regular basis," Lt. Marion said.
Thanks to the community, the Salvation Army can continue serving, despite having to close the Family Store because of the coronavirus shutdown.
“We can’t serve the food if we don’t have the food, so that’s a coordination through donations like Texas Roadhouse, the Calcasieu Parish School Board,” Lt. Marion said. “We also received money to pay for that from United Way. We’ve placed orders within companies that are closed right now, but open for us.”
Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), an effort coordinated by the United Way, has also helped with providing meals in Sulphur.
“What we do is come together collectively to cooperate, communicate, and coordinate with each other so that we can come together and have the best results for our community when we’re dealing with a disaster,” said Denise Durel, CEO and President of United Way SWLA.
These partnerships allow the Salvation Army to serve those who need it the most, regardless of who they are.
“Yesterday we had someone who had COVID and had been quarantined but needed food," Lt. Marion said. "They stayed in their vehicle, and we practiced all safe precautions, but we still fed that person. We’re not going to not feed people.”
Lt. Marion said they’re looking for donations.
“We are going to be in constant need until this is done of food, but we need food in large quantities," Lt. Marion said. "The biggest amount of food that we need is meat. We need meat that we can pull, meat that we can cook down, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, hamburger, anything that we can get in bigger portions.”
Salvation Army served lunch to over 100 people on Mar. 25. The next day, over 400 people were served in total at their two feeding sites.
The Salvation Army serves lunch every day from 12 to 1:30 PM. On Sunday, Mar. 29, they will only be serving breakfast and dinner.