SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Six nonprofits across Southern Electric Power Company’s service area in northwest Louisiana have been awarded $25,000 by the American Electric Power Foundation.
According to AEP, grant dollars will aid organizations in expanding holiday meal programs and addressing community needs. The American Electric Power Foundation is funded by American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP) and its utility operating units, including SWEPCO.
The organizations receiving grants are:
- Caddo Council on Aging
- Christian Service
- Common Ground Shreveport
- Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana
- Natchitoches Parish Council on Aging
- Salvation Army Northwest Louisiana
“We are pleased to present these agencies with additional funding on behalf of the AEP Foundation, as we know our partner agencies are working tirelessly to provide relief for those facing difficult situations,” said Michael Corbin, SWEPCO External Affairs manager.
“We want to help ensure that the programs serving our community’s most vulnerable residents can continue and expand.”
Caddo Council on Aging’s Executive Director Monica Wright says the nonprofit would use its $3,500 in funding to support its Meals on Wheels program. When the pandemic first started, the AEP Foundation awarded funds to the nonprofit that allowed it to increase the number of meals delivered from five to six per week.
“The need for meals for seniors in our community has increased,” said Wright.
“We are getting more calls from seniors that want home-delivered meals, and we are working to continue to provide six meals. These funds will help us provide these meals, as well as the additional requests that we receive.”
Seniors and families will also benefit from funds awarded to Christian Service. Executive Director Alvin Moore said the organization would use the $2,500 awarded by the Foundation to help it continue to feed those in need. In its 50th year, Christian Service prepares approximately 7,000 meals for residents with no questions asked.
“We provide two hot meals a day on every day of the year except Christmas Day,” said Moore.
“Due to the [Covid-19] pandemic, we are only preparing to-go meals, but we’d never had to buy to-go meal supplies and bottled water. These funds will go toward the supplies needed to help us continue our mission. We cannot do the things we do without the support of the community and the AEP Foundation.”
Common Ground Shreveport will apply its $2,500 in funding to its food pantry grocery boxes and community meals. Each week, about 500 boxes of groceries full of non-perishables and fresh produce, along with 350 to-go meals, are prepared for families by Common Ground Shreveport, said Director of Operations and Programs Sarah Williams Shoup.
“With the holidays, additional items such as baking and stuffing mixes are included in the grocery boxes; these items help residents round out their holiday meal.” Said Shoup.
“This grant will go toward the holiday goods, and we couldn’t do what we do without our community partners. We are beyond grateful.”
A grant of $10,000 to the Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana will expand its Backpack Program – now in its 23rd year. Backpacks are filled with food that is distributed on the last day before the weekend or holiday vacation for children to take home. The food is child-friendly, nonperishable, easily consumed and vitamin-fortified, said Executive Director Martha Marak.
“The Backpack Program is a weekend feeding program in areas where the school-age children are predominately living in poverty,” said Marak.
“The program is designed to meet the needs of hungry children at times when other food resources are not available, such as weekends and school vacations.”
Participating schools are in Caddo, Bossier, Webster, Claiborne, Bienville, Red River and DeSoto parishes.
For the Salvation Army Shreveport-Bossier, a $2,500 grant will support its holiday meal program, including the distribution of approximately 100 food baskets.
“We are always working to feed our shelter residents, as well as members of the Boys and Girls Club, especially during the holiday season,” said Director of Development Julie Searing.
“Our focus will be that our community is not deprived of a meal this coming Christmas.”
In Natchitoches, $4,000 in funds awarded to the Natchitoches Parish Council on Aging will be used to develop a website to coordinate outreach in Natchitoches Parish, improving communications with and services for the parish’s senior citizens.
The AEP Foundation focuses its support on education, from early childhood through higher education, and supporting those agencies that meet basic needs, such as emergency shelter, affordable housing and the elimination of hunger.
The AEP Foundation has provided nearly $4 million in emergency funds to support basic human needs – food, shelter and housing assistance – and other COVID-19 related emergencies across the AEP system.
The AEP Foundation is based in Columbus, Ohio.