Help feed our bay area friends

Published 9:32 pm Saturday, October 16, 2010

Even though the Deepwater Horizon oil well has been capped and is no longer spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico, disastrous effects continue to be felt on the Alabama Gulf Coast. You may not realize it yet, but your community will feel those effects too. You may be asking, “How will we be affected? Wasn’t it an environmental disaster?”

It was an environmental disaster that continues to impact our state economy. According to panelists at the Road to Restoration forum on Oct. 5-6, Baldwin and Mobile counties led Alabama in tourism products last year, producing 27 percent of the 2009 total tax contributions to the Education Trust Fund. This year, tourism is down approximately 50 percent. In addition, the seafood industry was significantly affected by the oil spill. While seafood landings are a portion of those in Louisiana, seafood processing in Alabama equals the seafood landing dollars generated in Louisiana.

When tourists go elsewhere and seafood is not processed, people lose businesses and jobs. Lost income results in less money to feed and care for families. Mental health issues begin to appear. But Dr. Richard Powers, ADEM Medical Director, noted that depression can’t be addressed if a person is worried about feeding his or her family. Basic needs must first be met.

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You can help feed families in the Gulf Coast by contributing to the Bay Area Food Bank through our voluntary Friends Helping Alabama: Help Feed Our Bay Area Friends initiative. There are two easy ways to contribute. You can send a check payable to the AL 4-H Foundation, Inc and mark it BAFB. Mail to the AL 4-H Foundation, Inc., 226 Duncan Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849, Attn: BAFB or If you prefer to make an online donation, visit Choose ACES Donation Program as your program designation.

Give a helping hand to our neighbors who live along the Gulf Coast – we never know when we will need a hand ourselves. For more information, contact Virginia Morgan, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, 229 Duncan Hall Annex, Auburn University, AL 36849, phone (334) 844-5699.

Callie Nelson is the extension coordinator for Dallas County.