Slice of St. Tammany: Food bank seeks extra help in summer

The summer is, hopefully, a time to step back and relax a little. It’s also a time for many people to take a vacation. But here’s something to keep in mind as summer enters its final stretch: Need never takes a vacation. That’s why the Covington Food Bank wants to put out the word that the cupboard is nearly bare.

“Basically, there is a lot of need out there,” Executive Director Terri Turner-Marse said.

Food, of course, is a major need, but there is something else the Food Bank lacks: toiletries.

“We have virtually little to no hygiene products,” Turner-Marse said. Donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste, men’s and women’s deodorant, shampoo, soap and women’s hygiene products are needed.

And, of course, food is needed, too. “We have made a commitment to provide a nutritionally balanced box of staples,” Turner-Marse added. That means donations of things like rice, beans, peanut butter and tuna are always needed.

“We are running behind about 30,000 pounds of food” from last year, she said. Although she said she cannot really pinpoint the cause of the problem, there may be several factors: Economic troubles for families who used to contribute, the usual summer slowdown, and bad weather that kept donations down for the Postal Service’s Stamp Out Hunger campaign in May. “It was a stormy day, and we did not get the usual supply.”

“Generally, we have not been getting as many donations,” Turner-Marse said, adding that a food drive is coming up at St. Peter Catholic Church in Covington. “And generally, in the second half of year, people start thinking” about donating to the Food Bank.

Meanwhile, the Food Bank is in the midst of its summer fan program and started its school supply giveaway on Wednesday.

Turner-Marse said the Food Bank has about 100 distributions a day, giving out 6,000 pounds of food three times a week.

“We served over 2,300 families last year,” she said, “with 57 percent in St. Tammany, 32 percent from Washington Parish, and 11 percent from Tangipahoa.”

The Covington Food Bank, 840 N. Columbia St., is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. until noon. For more information, call (985) 893-3003 or visit www.covingtonfoodbank.org. Donations can also be dropped off at the Archdiocese of New Orleans Northshore Pastoral Center, 69090 East U.S. 190 Service Road, just north of Interstate 12.

Party benefits Safe Harbor

A Sunset Garden Party to benefit Safe Harbor, which assists victims of domestic violence, will take place Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. at Pontchartrain Yacht Club, 140 Jackson Ave. in Mandeville. Art on the Lake will include poolside dancing at sunset, artists exhibiting artwork and writers signing their latest books. Tickets are $25. For more information, call Sylvia Schmidt at (985) 893-6581 or (985) 626-3192.

Coffee with Mayor Cooper

Covington Mayor Mike Cooper invites the residents of Covington to attend Coffee with Mayor Cooper on July 31, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Covington Trailhead Museum and Visitors Center, 419 N. New Hampshire St.

“This gathering gives our residents the opportunity to ask questions, state concerns or provide feedback in an informal setting where they can feel comfortable to do so,” Cooper said.

You might want to bring your own folding chair, as seating is limited.

For more information, call (985) 892-1873.

Red beans, rice and the United Way

The United Way will present its annual Red Beans ’n’ Rice Cook-Off in two locations. The fourth annual West St. Tammany Red Beans ’n’ Rice Cook-Off, hosted by St. Tammany Fire District No. 4, St. Tammany Fire District No. 12 and the St. Tammany Parish Department of Fire Services, will be held on July 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Timothy Methodist Church in Mandeville.

The ninth annual East St. Tammany Red Beans ’n’ Rice Cook-Off, hosted by St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 1, St. Tammany Department of Fire Services and the Slidell Police Department, will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 5 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Slidell.

The events mark the official kickoff of the 2013 St. Tammany United Way campaign and feature United Way community partner agencies and the vital work they do in our community. For $8, guests enjoy a taste of all the red beans they can eat, desserts, music, raffle prizes and a chance to vote on your favorite cooking team.

Bicentennial baby arrives

Cohen Kale Crawford, son of Kandyl Koike and Charles Crawford Jr. of Covington, was born at 12:34 a.m. July 4, 2013, making him the official “bicentennial baby,” the first baby born at St. Tammany Parish Hospital on the city’s 200th birthday.

The proud grandparents are Sherry and Charles Crawford and Cheryl Fanguy and Kevin Koike. The family was showered with gifts from local merchants, including a commemorative bicentennial poster from the city of Covington, a gift bundle from St. Tammany Parish Hospital and a gift certificate from Target.

The Bicentennial Baby Contest was sponsored by the Covington Bicentennial Committee and St. Tammany Parish Hospital.

Karen Baker writes about St. Tammany Parish. She can be reached at sliceoftammany@ gmail.com.