People in Louisiana are renowned for food, from top restaurants to tailgate cooking. But no culinary magic is required for the most important meals we ever put on a plate: the ones we serve to others in need. Once again many people in Louisiana have been thrust into that position by Hurricane Laura.
What’s different this time is the those we so often see lead the way with immediate, grassroots disaster relief are themselves mired in a brutal crisis.
Our restaurant community is currently fighting for its own existence as the coronavirus crisis stretches into month six. The projections for the future of this cornerstone New Orleans business are somber at best, and grow worse as the crisis lengthens.
And yet, once again, some of the first to step up to help after Hurricane Laura come from hospitality.
They bring a lot to the table, with skills, resources and, critically, networks and relationships all built around New Orleans food.
Now though, even restaurants that remain closed in the pandemic are nonetheless lighting the stoves to cook. People who have lost their jobs are volunteering to serve others who have lost much more.
They’re gathering supplies, hitting the road and making sure people pushed from their homes have something to eat, somewhere to start.
It’s not just restaurants. The connections built through food extend through families and friends, clubs and teams and neighborhoods.
We’ve seen it play out through the covid crisis, as people in their own crisis step up to help others.
The impulse remains strong, despite the pandemic and the ceaseless divisions, perhaps because New Orleans knows what it means to get help from others when the chips are down.
So, if you need one more measure of what New Orleans stands to lose as our restaurant community fights through the pandemic, take a look at what that community is doing for others right now.