Healthier Northshore partnership serves fresh produce to Bogalusa food bank

Published 3:49 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2024

BOGALUSA, La. – Healthier Northshore, a community health initiative spearheaded by St. Tammany Health System, recently completed its first harvest and distribution of fresh produce for food bank clients at the Bogalusa Help Center.

The initiative, which will see such deliveries occur weekly, is a community partnership with key contributions from Nielsen’s Farmacy, a two-acre community garden on which the produce was grown; the B.B. Sixty Rayburn Correctional Center, inmates from which harvested and bundled the produce; and the Bogalusa Help Center.

“It’s a labor of love and a ministry of sorts,” said pharmacist Bill Nielsen, who plants the garden annually on land adjacent to his pharmacy. “This is just a small way I can give back to the people of Bogalusa. The real credit, though, goes to God. Whatever good we can do comes from him.”

In all, 200 bundles of freshly harvested mustard greens were delivered to the food bank. Each was accompanied by a recipe card, along with information about Nielsen’s Farmacy and the Healthier Northshore Initiative.

Ben Nevers, former state senator, executive committee member of Healthier Northshore and lifelong resident of Bogalusa, gathered all the resources and entities to make this initiative a reality.

“Bogalusa is my community, and we want to spread the word about the wonderful resources available here and get this produce to people who need it most,” Nevers said. “My lifelong friends and neighbors were anxious to come together to make this happen. We all want people to know they can utilize this garden whenever they need it, to provide nutrition for their families.”

The Bogalusa Help Center serves approximately 100 households each week.

The Healthier Northshore initiative was started in 2020 by local health systems, government officials, local experts and community leaders to serve as a network for healthcare-related education and resources in the region. Among other things, it promotes early detection and prevention to improve the health of Northshore residents.