The concept of food banking began in the late 1960s in Phoenix, Arizona, when John van Hengel decided to set up a warehouse to store donated food products for a local soup kitchen. Mr. van Hengel credited his idea to a woman with 10 children and a husband on death row who rummaged for food in bins behind grocery stores. She suggested that what was really needed was a place to both deposit food and check it out – like a bank.
In 1976 U.S. Tax Reform Act strongly encouraged food bank growth, as it made it more financially advantageous for companies to donate their food products. By 1979, this federally funded effort had expanded to include the solicitation of food donations – not simply the storage of products – and this effort was incorporated as “America’s Second Harvest,” know today as “Feeding America.” This organization became – and remains today – the clearinghouse for large donations from national corporations, and also provides national standards for storage capacity, quality control and management.
The Food Bank of Central Louisiana was conceived when a group of concerned citizens met with Lyman Adams, who had recently moved to the area. Mr. Adams had been the director of the food procurement department of the Baton Rouge Food Bank. The groups of citizens became the board of the directors for the Food Bank, and Mr. Adams was installed as the executive director.
The Food Bank of Central Louisiana was incorporated in October 1989 with the mission of alleviating hunger in Central Louisiana. In May of 1990, the Food Bank officially opened and distributed 2,329 pounds of food to two pantries. Seven months later, these numbers jumped to 193,845 pounds to 31 pantries. The Food Bank became a member of Feeding America, formally known as America’s Second Harvest in 1995.
The Food Bank has grown over the past 20 years, adding member agencies and programs. In 2009, the Food Bank distributed more than 5.7 million pounds of food to 85 member agencies in Central Louisiana.
As the Food Bank of Central Louisiana works, with your help, toward the future, we maintain the faith, and the hope, that one day our work will be unnecessary. That one day, together, we will create a community where no one has to go hungry.