Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), donated semi-trailers of food to Natchitoches Parish Schools and a DeRidder church after the closure of the utility’s Natchitoches base camp on Monday, Sept. 7.
At its base camp on the Northwestern State University, SWEPCO provided meals and lodging for more than 800 line workers and support personnel assisting in restoration efforts throughout Central Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.
“As we demobilized our base camp, we saw an opportunity to provide food to local organizations,” said Malcolm Smoak, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. “District Resource Planning Supervisor Todd Nottingham and his logistics team worked with local officials to identify organizations in need.”
The Natchitoches Parish Schools lost much of its food in Hurricane Laura. Another delivery was not expected until the end of next week. Two 18-wheelers of frozen foods and dry goods were taken to a food warehouse for Natchitoches Parish Schools.
“This is so incredibly timely because, although we are having food replaced, it takes time,” said Shauna Hicks, Child Nutrition District Manager for Natchitoches Parish Schools. “We sat here with empty freezers. This is going to patch us through until we can take delivery on replacement food. This is huge for us.”
Mary Jones, assistant director of the Natchitoches Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, helped coordinate the delivery.
“I am so thankful to SWEPCO for the donation,” she said. “I’m overwhelmed that you have this food, and you’re donating it to the parish.”
A third 18-wheeler of food transported a full trailer of non-perishable items to First United Pentecostal Church in DeRidder.
Chance Lewis, the church’s executive pastor, said he is appreciative of the canned vegetables and other non-perishable items his church received from SWEPCO, adding it came at the ideal time.
“We set up as a distribution center. Anyone needing non-perishable items can come and get what they need,” Lewis said. “We were actually running quite low on supplies. When we received the donation, we were able to stock our shelves back.”