Long line shows need for food

Katrina Dufrene of St. Andrew’s Mission talks with a person in line for food distribution Friday.

A miscommunication about a St. Andrew’s Mission food giveaway Friday left some people frustrated but also showcased a deep local need for help during the coronavirus epidemic.

St. Andrew’s Mission had announced a food giveaway 1 p.m. Thursday, then changed it to 1 p.m. Friday — but it turned out the giveaway wasn’t until 2:30 and was only for people who were already on a list.

Vehicles started lining up an hour in advance and by 1:30 p.m. stretched two-tenths of a mile south to 21st Street.

In the St. Andrew’s building at 615 Bendat St., workers had 150 bags of groceries, with frozen food expected from a delivery truck before 2:30.

Seeing the line of vehicles, project manager Katrina Dufrene and others packed “bags of happies” for people who weren’t on the food list — cleaner, body wash, fabric sheets, shampoo, snacks and soap.

But first Dufrene had to go down the line of vehicles in the broiling heat and explain the mix-up.

Some had already signed up and would qualify for the food; they just had to wait. Others were there because of the announcement saying food was available for elderly and disabled people.

“I’m a Vietnam vet and I’m disabled so I qualify on both counts,” one man said, remaining good-natured nonetheless.

Dufrene invited him to stop by the mission later on for one of the gift bags.

Another elderly man was visibly distraught.

“I just picked my wife up at the hospital,” he said.

Dufrene told him about the gift bags and also said the mission would give emergency food supplies to people in dire need. But he shook his head and put his truck in gear. “I’ve been out here an hour already. I’ve got to go give my wife a shot.”

In another vehicle, a woman said, “I’m 92 years old, dearie.”

Dufrene could only apologize and offer to give her a gift bag later.

And so it went.

“I don’t mind,” Dufrene said between vehicles. “I’m a people person.”

St. Andrew’s hands out up to 150 bags of food twice a month to people who qualify. The next sign-up period is the second week in September.

While the mission uses food from the Mississippi Food Network, it also takes donations.

“We need vegetables, canned vegetables — canned goods,” Dufrene said.

For more information call 601-684-4678.

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