On Wednesday, July 14, the Broadmoor Food Pantry was recognized as a leader in community-driven care with a special visit from the Second Gentleman of the United States, Mr. Doug Emhoff. Mr. Emhoff, who has been championing issues of food security and vaccination, toured the Broadmoor Food Pantry during typical distribution hours and had the opportunity to see the Broadmoor Improvement Association’s vision for holistic community wellness in action. Also onsite was Ochsner’s Mobile Vaccination Unit, to support more community members getting their COVID-19 vaccination.
Wednesday’s event saw nearly 150 households receive a hefty box of USDA commodities, along with an additional bundle of fresh donated produce. Ochsner’s mobile vaccination unit was also in action, offering shots in arms to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon his arrival, Mr. Emhoff was greeted by Pastor Gregory Manning, the Reverend of Broadmoor Community Church and co-founder of the food pantry. Also present was First Gentleman Jason Cantrell, Justin Boone, BIA Board President, and Laura Mellem, of the Office of Homeland Security, who led the City’s response to food insecurity throughout the pandemic.
Started in 2012 in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank and Broadmoor Community Church to address the food insecurity of its most vulnerable neighbors, the Broadmoor Food Pantry, operated by the Broadmoor Improvement Association (BIA), has grown from serving 40 families monthly out of a small closet, to a major twice-weekly distribution site that feeds 500+ families a month on average. A significant contributor to this growth has been the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic, which left many families in hardship. “We had folks walking up, saying that they’d never needed services like ours before. We just told them, this is why we’re here, and we’re so happy you came to us,” said Jeffrey Dupuis, pantry volunteer. In fact, the pandemic’s impact led to the creation of a permanent delivery program that brings groceries to the doorsteps of over 120 elderly and homebound Broadmoorians each month.
The pantry serves as a hub for resources and support, as onsite social workers connect with clients to offer SNAP enrollment services, case management, medical testing, access to a free clothing closet and affordable counseling services through the BIA. The food pantry also houses a community garden that produces its own herbs and vegetables to distribute to clients. “We believe that the best way we can support neighborhood health and safety is
through ensuring that the basic needs of every single one of our residents are met,” said Bethanie Mangigian, BIA Wellness Director, of the organization’s well-rounded approach. “As a neighborhood association, we are pioneering a model of increasing wellbeing by attending to public health and quality of life programs that help people thrive, not just survive.”
Since its humble beginnings, the Food Pantry has secured additional cold food storage, building an additional shed to house its commodities and expanding its community gardens and staff to address the growing need of residents. The majority of the pantry’s food is sourced through its partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeastern Louisiana; however, when food shortages occur, the BIA pulls from its budget to identify other resources. For individuals whose household income is too high to be eligible to receive USDA products, the BIA has a special fund to support the purchase of additional groceries and shelf stable items that anyone in need can access. “Regardless of who you are or your income, no one will walk away empty-handed,” said Loren Brodie, Food Pantry Coordinator, of the pantry’s commitment to being a no-barrier pantry. In 2020, the pantry distributed more than 7,400 boxes of food to more than 2,000 households on a budget of less than $25,000. Of this feat, said BIA Board President, Justin Boone, “It’s the volunteers and strong partnerships that make this possible, and it’s also the generous support of our community. Donations of $40 can feed a family for an entire year and we hope that those who are moved by these efforts will consider supporting this vital service by going online to www.broadmoorimprovement.com/donate.”
Of the Second Gentleman’s visit to the Broadmoor Food Pantry, said Mangigian, “We are floored. We are so grateful for the recognition and honor that his visit conveys. Our team feels even more encouraged as we continue to find innovative ways to care for our community and end hunger in Broadmoor.” Mr. Emhoff was gifted a Broadmoor Food Pantry t-shirt, original art featuring Broadmoor, a fresh bundle of okra grown in our community garden, and a roll of tape rebranded from 3M to 2M for the 2nd Gentleman, with the remembrance that his visit will stick with us!
View additional coverage of the Second Getntleman 's visit to The Broadmoor Food Pantry at below: