By LEIGH GUIDRY, The Advertiser
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Lafayette Parish School Board member Elroy Broussard showed up at his church’s parish hall at 6 a.m. on a recent Saturday to begin cooking 120 pounds of chicken.
Broussard and his fellow parishioners at St. Anthony Catholic Church have been meeting several times a year to prepare and distribute meals to others in their neighborhood since 1994.
“Everyone does everything from cooking to cleaning to serving,” Broussard said.
The final menu is oven-smothered chicken served over rice and homemade gravy, sugar snap peas, a bun and a slice of cake for dessert.
Parishioners young and old help Broussard cook, prepare and serve meals as part of the “Feed My People” program, named after a Bible verse from the book of John in which Jesus tells his disciples to do exactly that: to feed his people.
“It brings together different aspects of our community,” said Fr. Richard Andrus, SVD. “There are people who have been there since the beginning and young people who help with the delivery. This gives them a great foundation to be young Catholics serving the community, not just serving the church.
Some of the young men in the youth group helped move giant pots of sauce and sweet peas from the stove to the counter in the parish hall kitchen, so the older members could put the food in containers to take away. Andrus took the plates from one assembly line to another to be topped with a bun and dessert.
Broussard has been involved from the start and he is delighted to see young people showing up to help.
“We will need people to take our place one day,” Broussard said. “We hope it will prosper a bit more.”
They prepared around 150 meals for the group of young people to deliver on foot throughout the community – to the elderly, housebound and in need.
“We try to put some seasoning in there,” Broussard said. “They are used to bland food. We try to heal them.
He grew up in the community and knows most of the people who still live there, as well as their children. He has been a member of St. Anthony for 50 years.
Nearly 30 years ago, “Feed My People” started small as Alvin DeJean’s idea for his annual act of kindness.
DeJean, 73, came to help on Saturday, grateful to see how the parish took the idea and followed through.
“I’m amazed,” DeJean said.
The program is one of many ways the church aims to serve the community with immunization events and its health ministry pantry in partnership with Second Harvest.
Some of the food is donated and much of the cost is covered by donations, Broussard said.
“It’s just a good feeling to be part of something and to work with people who want to accomplish for the greater good of the community,” Broussard said. “It’s not tiring. It is rewarding.
Copyright 2022 The Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.