.- BP America, a subsidiary of the petroleum giant whose underwater well is leaking millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, has announced a combined $1 million donation to Catholic Charities in Louisiana to support emergency food assistance and financial aid for families affected by the environmental disaster.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans said that the Catholic Church has been active in relief efforts since April 29 through its Catholic Charities affiliate and Second Harvest Food Bank. Though their efforts have served more than 1,000 individuals and families, need is growing among the people.
Catholic Charities co-president Jim Kelly reported that the agency had committed a minimum of $300,000 in resources before BP’s offer.
“We knew immediately that the impact would be enormous and we would need to respond quickly,” he remarked.
Second Harvest Food Bank member agencies have reported a 15 to 25 percent increase since May 1 in the number of new people seeking emergency food assistance. According to the archdiocese, the food bank itself has distributed over 700 emergency food boxes. Its agencies have distributed more than 31,700 meals in affected areas.
“Our first priority in this disaster is the people who are directly impacted and unable to work right now,” New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond explained. “Their livelihood and their way of life are endangered and it is our responsibility as church and as human beings to provide for them in their time of need. This gift from BP America is a blessing for us as it will allow us to continue our mission of service to those directly affected.”
Catholic Charities New Orleans co-president Gordon Wadge said the organization has always had “early responder” and “forever responder” roles.
“Our expertise is in identifying the needs of the people impacted by a disaster and remaining with them until their needs are served, no matter how long that takes,” he noted.
St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro said he was “so grateful” for all the assistance from the relief agencies to help fishermen. He said the BP donation will “go a long way” to aid in supporting them.
The Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS) estimates that about 47,000 households across coastal Louisiana may need food assistance because of the oil spill.
The website of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans is http://www.ccano.org