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No shortage of groups wanting to feed needy

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An empty stomach has great odds of finding a good meal in the south. 

The love and hospitality that is shown via food is not missed on area pantries that serve the community as well. 

There are seven food pantries in New Iberia, 13 including surrounding areas. 

Their staff along with St. Francis Diner employees are committed to a mission to feed the hungry in the Teche Area.  

“When a person is well fed and smiling I feel like I’ve completed my mission for the day,” Executive Director of St. Francis Diner, Juanita Lewis said.

Disch-Declouet Social Service Center on Bank Street is another resource that has had open hearts and hands to assist those in need. Their food pantry portion of services is well utilized.

“We help about 4000 times a year. Sixty five tons of food a year.  They come once a month but if they need help we don’t refuse them,” Director Carol Gaignard said.

The executive director explained that most of her clients get food stamps but many tell her they need a little additional food at the end of the month. 

“Food stamps can only go so far. We never refuse anyone. Some come to the back door and say I don’t have any food tonight. What am I going to feed my kids tonight?,” Gaignard said.

Hot meals are the way to feed the hungry at St Francis Diner. 

Lewis said the diner serves about 180 people per week.

 “The people that come here to eat everyday 99.9 percent of them are hungry and there is another percent that just come to have someone to socialize with,” Lewis said.

And while these community staples pour out into the community from what they have, there are those watching that pour back in to them.

“It’s unbelievable when I first got here we had a gas leak in the kitchen and it was like $30,000 I panicked. We didn’t have that kind of money,” St Francis Diner Board President Richard Guidry said.

 “I prayed about it and what happened is that there was a class action lawsuit concerning the railroad and there was some money left over,” 

In two weeks Guidry said the diner had a check for $50,000.

“It happened again about 5 or 6 years ago we were $20,000 in the red. Juanita called me and said we had a check in the mail for $20,000. Everytime donors have come through,” he said. 

Disch-Declouet Social Service Center has been shown kindness from the community as well.

“Our pantries are primarily filled through Second Harvest Food Bank in Lafayette, but we also depend on the community. We need things like canned chicken and peanut butter (dried foods and canned goods)” Gaignard said.

The motivation behind each open food shelf in the area is the same, a mission to feed the hungry. 

“Why wouldn’t you share your blessing with this community we want to make this community where everyone has food to eat, nobody should be hungry,” Gaignard said.

“That should be the goal of everyone who lives in Iberia parish. What little we can do to help that we’re glad to do it.”

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