LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - More than 700 cars lined up at the Prien Lake Mall parking lot Tuesday morning to fill their cars with food provided by the United Way of SWLA and several local organizations.
The first got in line early at 5 a.m. and by 9 a.m., the 700th car was counted.
With a limit of 700 vehicles to be served, President and CEO of United Way SWLA Denise Durel said they had to turn hundreds of cars away after, which is the hardest part of the job.
“The 18-wheelers only have so much food in them. This time, we have three [18-wheelers]," Durel said. “Last time, we had one 18-wheeler and two boxcars. So, we do have more food, but we know that to be able to really sustain a family and make a difference in someone’s life who is food insecure, it has to be more than one box. We’re giving them fruits, vegetables and protein. It’s just a wide variety that they will get today.”
There were no requirements to receive food but volunteers asked questions such as age and number of family members so the United Way could learn more about who they were serving.
The goal was to provide 100,000 pounds of perishable and non-perishable food for anyone who is food insecure.
Durel said it’s nice to be able to provide a little light during this dark time.
“It’s the overwhelming need of our community and when you have people that are so food insecure that you have people who are willing to come out and wait for hours and hours for free groceries that’s really compelling to us to know that we’ve hit a nerve and are onto something that’s really important and critical for the people in our community,” Durel said.
“Everyone is so appreciative and just so thankful. When we are lining them up in the parking lot, trying to count the cars, they all just want to chat and tell us ‘thank you so much’. It really is overwhelming the joy that they feel because someone is here for them to answer their need."
United Way is hoping to have another food distribution event sometime in June. The information will be announced in the coming weeks.