Fix food insecurity: Make red beans

A man stirring a pot on a stove
Joey Thibodeaux preps red beans in his kitchen. Photo by Elliot Wade
  • The Problem: Food insecurity. Roughly half of Lafayette residents live in a food desert.
  • The Fix: Free red beans every Monday.
  • The Impact: 1,500+ meals delivered in two years.
  • The Takeaway: Anyone can make red beans. You can even use Joey's recipe.

Joey Thibodeaux wants to put beans into the hands of the people.

In 2020, following the most active storm season in state history, he and other organizers with the Democratic Socialists of America Acadiana set up pop-up “free” stores that quickly became a lot to manage. It was hard to wrangle together volunteers, and Thibodeaux was spread thin.

“I wanted to do something that I could do myself if no one else showed up,” says Thibodeaux, a Patterson native who moved to Lafayette 15 years ago to attend UL Lafayette.

He turned his eyes toward the stockpile of dried red beans he accumulated at the start of the pandemic. With a background in the restaurant industry, he experimented with different methods before getting his recipe just right. He had a lot of leftovers and decided to ask on Facebook if any of his friends wanted free beans. That offer grew to include anyone in Lafayette city limits.

After a year and a half of dishing out red beans every Monday, As Cool As Beans has served over 1,700 hot beans to Lafayette residents. It’s Thibodeaux’s hope that the project will catch on, and there will be bean deliveries across Acadiana.

“The idea is for me to be kind of, like replaceable, if needed,” says Thibodeaux. “I want more people to know that this is an approachable, doable thing. There's nothing uniquely that makes me the only person who was able to do this kind of thing. Anyone can do it.

Get Joey's Red Beans & Rice Recipe.

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