New Orleans - Six months doesn’t seem like a particularly lengthy anniversary to note, yet when it involves feeding New Orleanians in need, it’s a serious milestone.  In existence only since March of this year, Culture Aid NOLA, in conjunction with its diverse set of partners, has collected, distributed and served over 200 tons of direct food aid to thousands of local residents.  

On March 23, CAN sprang into being with a mission to serve the community.  The response was overwhelming; over 500 nutritious meals were served that first week.

CAN started as a collaborative effort of several local non-profits, including Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans, The New Orleans Musician’s Clinic and Assistance Foundation, Trinity Loaves and Fishes, and 504 Health Net.  Since then, the partnership has transitioned into its own full-fledged nonprofit organization.  Determined to serve the members of New Orleans’s cultural community during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, Culture Aid NOLA has expanded its partnerships to include World Central Kitchen, and New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee.  “Culture Aid Nola works because of our inspiring partners and dedicated volunteers,” says Erica Chomsky-Adelson, CAN’s founder and executive director. 

This operation has only one catch, and that is there is no catch.  CAN believes access to assistance should be as easy as possible, so no ID or paperwork is required by anyone.  It operates under a “no barrier” policy; when residents need a helping hand, CAN extends it without questions and without stigma.  This is especially poignant to those who have never experienced hunger and who are making their first, second and third visit to our distribution points.  Chomsky-Adelson adds, “We believe it should be easy to ask for help, and it should be easy to access help. We treat everyone in our community with dignity and respect as we work towards a more food secure city.” 

And this is just the beginning, as CAN develops into its vision of a resource center, providing wrap-around services to New Orleans’s culture bearers, hospitality workers, and families.  Currently, CAN provides over 20,000 pounds of food per week.  However, as the effects of the pandemic continue, the requests for aid grow as the number of resources stay the same.  Its leadership team’s extensive experience in disaster response has shown that long term commitment is what is needed to serve its communities.  In order to be the stable, constant and uplifting resource it has been in the last five months, CAN seeks continued support to be able to provide for citizens’ ongoing needs.

CAN appreciates and continues to seek the generous contributions of its volunteers and its donors, both large and small.  This support also extends to local farmers and wholesalers in the supply chain - who are also feeling the crunch - that provide the fresh and healthy food to neighbors in need.  Thanks to its donor base and the diversity of its partners, CAN is building a sustainable, flexible model that will support New Orleans now and as future demands dictate.  “The New Orleans cultural community is unlike any other in the world”, says Chomsky-Adelson.  “We’re here to take care of each other, and we’ll continue to work for our community as long as we need to.”

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About Culture Aid NOLA

Culture Aid NOLA serves the community that creates the spirit and flavor of New Orleans.  Culture Aid NOLA strives to make receiving aid an uplifting experience by hiring local musicians, providing fresh, healthy and appetizing food, and offering additional resources to restore hope to create a welcoming environment for our community.