Parish Council hears about local food distribution

Published 8:26 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Washington Parish Council heard a presentation Monday night from Hillcrest Baptist Church Pastor and Help Center for Churches Director the Rev. Andrew Voss concerning what is being done to assist local families in need.

“The Help Center of Churches has been around for over 20 years. Over the last year, Help Center of Churches zeroed in on a staple food program,” Voss said.

Voss said the organization has adopted the Covington Food Bank model, which includes 35 pounds of food per box with 18 food items in each.

“Last month we distributed boxes to 312 families. Of that number, 49 percent of those clients were single families and 29 percent were two-person households,” Voss said. “We target senior adults on fixed incomes.”

Voss related the story of a Washington Parish woman who received a food box. She was receiving $8 a month in food stamps. Her Social Security payments were $500 per month.

“The food needs of people are not being met,” Voss said. “A lot of ministers in the area are trying to meet those needs, but they are scattered.”

As of the 2013 census, the median income for Washington Parish residents was $31,778, compared to $44,874 for the rest of the state.

“That was the most shocking statistic,” Voss said. “Washington Parish residents living below the poverty level was 25.7 percent, compared to 19.1 percent in the rest of Louisiana.”

Voss said the organization adds approximately 40 new clients per month.

“It’s about everybody working together,” Voss said. “Because of the system of verification we have now, people know the food is going to the people who really need it,” Voss said.

To register with the organization, clients must have a photo ID, proof of income for each person in the household, proof of residence and proof of all individuals living in the household.

The Help Center of Churches in Franklinton is located at 946 Ellis St. To inquire about donation, Voss can be reached at 985-839-2541.

Also Monday, Washington Parish President Richard Thomas read a proclamation declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in the parish. He presented the proclamation to Children’s Advocacy Center/Hope House of Covington representative Barbara Hebert.

“Last year we had 257 children walk through our doors,” Hebert said. “Of those 257, 30 percent were from Washington Parish. We are all here to stop the cycle of child abuse. And help along the legal process. We’re trying very hard to get the word out that we will not tolerate child abuse in our parishes.”

Regarding the proposed Washington Parish Reservoir Project, Council Chairman Michael Fussell asked board members to have their nominations for the Reservoir Commission Board ready to be submitted by the time the Parish Council meets again on April 27. Nominations will be submitted to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office.

The Council adopted a resolution to revise payment standards to be implemented by Washington Parish Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. The Council assumed all management authority over the Housing Authority of Washington Parish in January. Revised rental prices for the remainder of 2015 are $524 for one bedrooms; $644 for two bedrooms; $802 for three bedrooms and $1,020 for four bedrooms.

Also, the Council adopted a resolution approving the funding of a home economist with the LSU AgCenter.

Council members introduced an ordinance that would accept adding Lantana Road to the parish. The Council will hear public discussion on the ordinance on April 27 before voting.

Thomas said the public should support all millage tax renewal proposals concerning the parish on the May 2 ballot. Renewals are 4.13 mills for public roads and bridges, 1.03 mills for courthouse and public buildings, 3.11 mills for the public health unit and 4.6 mills for the public library system.