The Krewe of Red Beans has expanded its Feed the Frontlines program beyond hospitals to help the city’s cultural cornerstones.
The group has been delivering meals to frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic, using community donations to keep restaurants afloat and hiring out-of-work musicians to deliver the food. Now, it’s hoping to do the same for some of the city’s matriarchs and patriarchs of culture.
The new initiative — Feed the Second Line — delivers boxes of local produce from Crescent City Farmers Market and two or three prepared meals a week from local restaurants to 145 “culture-creating elders,” said Devin De Wulf, the founder of the Krewe of Red Beans.
“It’s largely inspired by our (Krewe of Red Beans) parades,” De Wulf said. “Every year we have the Treme Brass Band perform, and Benny Jones Sr., the leader of the band, is a treasure. He’s literally the embodiment of New Orleans culture.”
Mr. Benny is in his 80s, De Wulf said. He teaches younger musicians, “and so if something were to happen to him, like say catching COVID because he went to the grocery, that would be a big blow to our culture and the preservation of cur culture.”
The city is full of Baby Dolls, Mardi Gras Indians and social and pleasure clubs who define music and entertainment in the city, and some of their members are in the key age demographic hit hardest by the pandemic.
“How many Mardi Gras Indian big chiefs do we have in the city, and if we lost one of them, what would that do to our culture?” De Wulf asked.
Feed the Second Line is aimed at protecting these elders, and showing them “food-love.”
The group has hired 30 younger musicians, younger Mardi Gras Indians and Baby Dolls to deliver the food, and the same delivery person will visit an elder each week, creating a “human to human relationship,” he said.
“The job-creation is a big part of the idea,” De Wulf added.
The group will also soon expand to providing free delivered groceries through a partnership with Rouses.
“This keeps them out of harm’s way” and out of COVID-risky grocery stores, De Wulf said. The Krewe of Red Beans has hired 30 musicians to deliver the meals and groceries.
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