United Way, Nucor Steel partner to feed St. James Parish Hospital staff

Published 12:04 am Saturday, November 13, 2021

LUTCHER — Representatives of Nucor Steel were up bright and early on Veterans Day to distribute fresh produce and grocery gift cards to unsung heroes at St. James Parish Hospital in partnership with Capital Area United Way.

More than 100 food boxes were distributed to hospital support staff through Capital Area United Way’s United We Feed initiative, which began during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure families had access to fresh produce. United We Feed has continued to serve ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) families throughout Capital Area United Way’s 10-parish region.

As of 2018, 45% of families in St. James Parish fell under the ALICE umbrella, and Capital Area United Way President and CEO George Bell said this statistic has surely increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida.

According to Bell, Thursday’s distribution was an opportunity to uplift members of the hospital support staff who have worked tirelessly through these life-changing events to provide a clean, sanitary and safe environment for all.

“With what they’ve gone through with the pandemic and Ida, many of the employees are in situations where their homes have been impacted. Working with Nucor, we felt this population would be a prime target for receiving this type of assistance,” Bell said. “During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of focus on doctors and nurses. Folks that were at the bedside got a lot of the attention. For this distribution, we are targeting the folks that clean the hospital, prepare the food, tend to the patients. We like to call them unsung heroes who are very much deserving of something like this.”

Access to fresh food is especially important in St. James Parish, where the impact of Hurricane Ida has left the area’s largest grocery store closed for an estimated eight months.

Along with produce boxes, qualifying employees received a $25 gift card from Associated Groceries, Nucor promotional items, AETNA cleaning supplies and additional Capital Area United Way resources.

Nucor employees present for Thursday’s distribution chose to give back to the community on their day off. Some of the employees were veterans who wore their hearts on their sleeve through acts of service on Veterans Day, according to Plant Manager Calvin Hart.

“We do a lot in the community, in St. James Parish in particular. We have also reached a lot outside of St. James, especially after Hurricane Ida, because the need is so vast. With Nucor as a corporation, where we live and where we work is extremely important to us,” Hart said. “When I heard about the ALICE population, it was something new to us. These guys get up every day and go to work with minimal means to meet their needs every single day. Considering we care about the community, we wanted to partner with United Way and make an impact for the folks in this community who actually need it.”

Nucor Steel is also active in St. James Parish through leadership and mentorship programs at local schools with a goal to curb violence in the community. The company has given away more than $1 million in scholarships to propel children to a bright future.

Bell said it meant a lot to have Hart on-site for the distribution. After reaching employees at St. James Parish Hospital, Capital Area United Way delivered donations including shovels, gas cans, tarps and more collected through the Show Up United program to the St. James Parish welcome center.

At each stop, Capital Area United Way shared information about the 211 informational line, which connects residents with more than 1,000 resources relating to renter assistance, food access, mental health/social services and more seven days a week, 365 days a year.

For more information, visit cauw.org.