The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Urge Congress to Give Full Funding for Louisiana Flood Victims; & Donate to LA food banks

Posted on August 30, 2016 at 01:55 PM

Please contact your Members of Congress and urge full and rapid federal aid for relief both short term and long-term in rebuilding southern Louisiana after the massive flooding. Information on charitable contributions for nutrition needs for victims is below in this message.

Right now a program that is doing great work is the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Twenty parishes have been included included in a federal disaster proclamation covering one third of the state’s population in what the Red Cross describes as the worst natural disaster since Super Storm Sandy.

On the front lines of the disaster relief campaign is David Coffman, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Food Banks in Baton Rouge, who said Gov. John Bel Edwards and the state have been very pro-active in providing assistance as the grocery stores are getting their shelves re-stocked. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has approved Louisiana’s request to allow SNAP recipients to buy hot foods ready to eat with their SNAP benefits through Oct. 17, 2016.

Coffman said 120,000 people in Louisiana have signed up for Disaster SNAP relief. Thirteen people died in the flooding. Extensive rebuilding will be required to clear out and repair the flooded homes, pay for new dry-wall, and many other repairs. The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank of New Orleans/Acadiana are working extensively in the flooded areas and please donate to them at the website addresses listed below.

Hunger relief is further stressed because the Baton Rouge Food Bank warehouse and headquarters was itself flooded with four feet of water: Coffman said the relief effort has had to deal with the Baton Rouge Food Bank headquarters being flooded by four feet of water, losing a great deal of food and forcing them to operate out of temporary facilities. It will take months for the warehouse to be repaired, disinfected and functional again, and even more time for food bank offices to be back in operation.

Among the ways to help are:

1) First, contact your Members of Congress now and urge them to be generous in voting disaster relief funding now and in the long-term rebuilding process to come.

2) Any donations to the charities on the front lines would be welcome. Among these are:

a. The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank by typing in and the site immediately directs you to a link where you can make contributions using your credit or debit card. This food bank serves a wider area in Louisiana and not just Baton Rouge. The link is completely secure. Again, their warehouse and offices were flooded so they are urgently in need of help. They are operating out of a smaller temporary facility.

Again: the website to type in for Baton Rouge is:

b. The Second Harvet Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana also serves parts of the flooded area. Their website at also immediately highlights “Disaster Response” with a click to where you can donate to help with the Southe Louisiana food crisis.

Again, the website address to type in for Greater New Orleans/Acadiana is:

Urge all Members of Congress to be generous in voting for federal aid to the Louisiana flooding victims: We urge Members of Congress across the country to avoid the highly unfortunate situation in 2012 regarding Super Storm Sandy, when many Members of Congress-including Rep. Steve Scalise, Rep. John Fleming, then Rep. and now Sen. Bill Cassidy, Republicans from Louisiana, and many others–opposed the $50 billion aid package for victims in the northeast as too costly.

In America, we have always helped victims of disasters whether they come from Louisiana and Arkansas or New York and New Jersey. We would have thought Members of Congress from Louisiana would have especially been compassionate in 2012, having been through the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. Surely Members of Congress in Louisiana and everywhere else will be fully supportive this time around.

The information for this message was gathered from a variety of sources: David Coffman of the Louisiana Association of Food Banks and other Delta Caucus colleagues in Louisiana; from the USDA website; from reports from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC); and from reporting in the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper (“Long Waits, Hot Temps at Livingston Parish disaster food stamp site,” by Faimon Roberts, August 22, 2016; and “In Wake of flooding, Louisiana Republicans take heat for 2013 votes against Sandy aid,” by Jeff Adelson, August 23, 2016).

In this disaster it should not be partisan or politicized in any way. To their credit, Members of Congress from both parties in the northeast are stepping up to the aid of Louisiana. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, a Republican from New Jersey, has been a leader in the effort to provide full funding for victims in Louisiana.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) similarly supports rapid and full aid for victims in Louisiana. Pascrell said that while he would not forget the delays in receiving aid to victims of Sandy in the northeast, and the members who voted against the aid, he vowed that “Not one dime is going to be delayed to the Baton Rouge area or to Louisiana” in general.

An aid package will be needed beyond what FEMA can automatically spend on immediate assistance and aid to local governments, and we urge all our partners in all eight states and the Washington, DC area to call and email their Members of Congress to support full, generous aid to Louisiana victims as they rebuild from this disaster. The entire Congress will have to support the aid package, and helping victims of disasters anywhere should be a national and not a local or regional issue.

Hunger and nutrition update: Disaster food stamps help in buying food for disaster victims who don’t normally receive food stamps. Current recipients of Louisiana’s food stamps program in the flooded parishes will automatically get disaster beneifts on their cards for buying groceries, unless they are already at the household maximum limit, according to USDA.

FNS has approved the request to temporarily let households who have lost their EBT cards to enter on the keys their card number and PIN without having the card present at FNS-authorized retailers in Louisiana through Sep. 6, 2016.

FNS has approved the Louisiana Dept. of Education’s requests to implement much greater flexibility in meal pattern requirements for the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. There will be much greater flexibility in calculating identified student percentages (ISPs) to cover any increases as a result of the disaster in SNAP participation and homeless youths served by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.

Parishes at the center of the disaster include East Feliciana, Iberia, Livingston, Point Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tangipahoa, Vermillion, Acadia, Ascension, and East Baton Rouge.

The flooding fortunately did not reach New Orleans, where David Coffman lives, so his home was not among the many flooded. Rev. Dwight Webster, our colleague in New Orleans who is a victim and survivor of Hurricane Katrina, was thankful that New Orleans was spared this time, but he indicated that the depth of this disaster and the suffering is not adequately understood because it covers a very large part of Louisiana. Again, it’s the largest-scale disaster since Super Storm Sandy.

We urge all our partners to advocate forcefully for short-term and long-term relief.

There are some Members of Congress from Louisiana, notably Congressmen Scalise and Fleming and Sen. Cassidy, who advocated smaller levels of funding for disaster victims of Super Storm Sandy in New York, New Jersey and the northeast. These Members of Congress now find themselves in the unenviable position of advocating for generous disaster relief when their home area was devastated, when they had called for much lesser funding in the name of cutting out waste, corruption, and expenses when the victims were at the other end of the country.

We should give credit to the US Senators from Louisiana in the 2012 vote on Sandy aid: then Sen. Mary Landrieu was a champion of aiding the victims in the northeast, and Sen. David Vitter voted in favor of the aid package. The Senate version of Sandy aid in fact included $10 billion more than the version that finally passed, due to opposition centered in the House.

Most people in the Delta were for generously helping victims of Sandy. The Delta Caucus included many leaders who volunteered for relief aid after Hurricane Katrina, and we were supportive of generous aid to victims of Sandy due to our terrible experience in our region.

We are glad to see that Members of Congress from both parties in the northeast are supportive of full and rapid aid for the Louisiana victims. History should not be forgotten so that we can avoid repeating bad decisions made in the past, but it’s good to see they are not making the same mean-spirited errors that a minority of people did in 2012. Let’s learn from our mistakes and move forward.

We need to always remember the lesson: we in the Delta help victims of disasters from New Jersey to Alaska to California, and they will help us in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. That’s the way America always worked in the past and it should work that way for the current victims in Louisiana.

On Aug. 22, the Disaster SNAP sign-up began across eight Louisiana parishes. Most residents quickly went through the process in less than an hour. In a few cases there were delays as in Walker, Louisiana in Livingston Parish where their available 36 computers were overwhelmed. An additional 12 computers were brought in to help at that location, and other locations will be opened up if needed.

At the Tangipahoa Parish they had more than 80 computers and kept the lines moving quickly. They had served 800 people on Aug. 22 by noon and another 500 later that day.

D-SNAP locations were opened last week in East Feliciana, Iberia, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tangipahoa and Vermillion, and this week sites opened in East Baton Rouge, Acadia, Ascension and Lafayette parishes. Seven other parishes will open up sites in the next few days.

There is a component regarding income for disaster food stamp eligibility, but the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services encourages anyone in the flooded zones who has disaster-related expenses to make an application because those costs are considered in determining eligibility.