Four times a week, hundreds of vehicles drove through one of Troy Duhon's service lanes. They didn't come for oil changes or recall work but instead to pick up bags of free food.
The need for food assistance skyrocketed in New Orleans amid the coronavirus pandemic with people out of work, said Duhon, owner of Premier Automotive Group based in the same city. After Hurricane Katrina, Duhon and his wife, Tracy, founded the nonprofit Giving Hope, which operates a soup kitchen and the Food Pantry of New Orleans, among other philanthropic efforts.
Demand in March "went through the roof," he said. "Literally, we started having people line up at 4 in the morning."
When people could no longer safely go into Giving Hope's warehouse to pick up food, Duhon turned the service and parts area of an old Ford dealership — his group's corporate headquarters — into a drive-through with two lines.