THE LOUISIANA Farm Bureau helped celebrate National Food Checkout Day Feb. 8 with food donations to Ronald McDonald Houses and a Baton Rouge food kitchen and homeless shelter.

Members of the Farm Bureau's Women's Committee donated more than $5,000 worth of food products and dry goods to mark the day when most Americans have earned enough money to pay their annual food bill.

Feb. 8 is the 39th day of the year. By this time, according to USDA, most family households have earned enough money to buy food for the remainder of the year. By comparison, most Americans must work until May 3 to pay their taxes for the year.

“The average American devotes only 10.6 percent of disposable income to pay for food,” said Denise Hymel of the Farm Bureau Women's Committee.

“That's the smallest percentage of any country in the world. Our farmers and ranchers work hard to make that possible. The donations to the Ronald McDonald Houses and St. Vincent de Paul symbolize this.”

Louisiana has Ronald McDonald House charities in Monroe and New Orleans. This year, because of the early Mardi Gras season, the food donation to the New Orleans Ronald McDonald House will be made Feb. 20. However, Lynn Giuffria, director of the New Orleans Ronald McDonald House, said the donations are welcome any time.

“We utilize the donations for months,” Giuffria said. “We have people who come here with almost nothing and being able to provide them with basic necessities is a huge relief to them. Many times their children are in critical care at the hospital.”

“We're always happy to see the Farm Bureau,” said Georgia Street, director of the Monroe Ronald McDonald House. “The people who stay here appreciate having somewhere to go and food readily available.”

All donations consist of food items, predominantly from Louisiana, such as rice and sugar products, Louisiana sweet potatoes, citrus products, dry goods and seasonings.