Triangle food banks get much needed relief after mounting pressure

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- The Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina said they’ve seen a 38 percent increase of people in need of food since the start of the pandemic.

They said the number of people in need of food in the areas they serve is now up to more than 750,000.

That meant more support and donations were needed to meet the needs of neighbors seeking help.

Increased Needs

“There are so many people in need right now due to the pandemic who are still unemployed or are under-employed, who are going to be impacted by the pandemic for such a long time, said Jennifer Caslin, marketing and project manager for the Food Bank.

Wake County announced this week they would distribute $1.5 million to organizations and partners helping to keep people fed during the pandemic.

Caslin said the money is much needed. She said the Food Bank has had record distribution numbers every month since the pandemic.

“We’ve had to purchase a lot more food. We’ve had to hire extra help due to the increase in need. We’ve had to rent some extra trucking so it allows us to be flexible right now,” said Caslin.

The money was distributed to the following 23 organization:

Boys & Girls Club of Wake CountyInterfaith Food ShuttleFresh Spire
Greater Pleasant Grove Development Corporation: Carver CenterFood Bank of Central and Eastern NCJuniper Level Missionary Baptist Church
Kirk of Kildare
Presbyterian Church
New Bethel Baptist Food Pantry (Rolesville)New Bethel Christian Church
Northern Community Food
Security Team
The Society of
St. Andrew
Pine Acres Community Center
Richland Creek Community
Church Food Pantry
St. James United Methodist ChurchThe Giving Garden at Wake Forest Presbyterian
The Raleigh Dream CenterOverflowing HandsTri Area Ministry
Zebulon United Methodist
Wake Forest Northeast Community CoalitionWestern Wake Crisis Ministry
YMCA of the TriangleUrban Ministries

Thanking those at work

While there has been an increase in demand, there are fewer volunteers to lend a hand. COVID-19 has restricted the amount of people that can be at the food bank’s facility.

“There’s been a lot of extra work but everyone has really risen to the occasion. We’ve been able to get out a lot. Last month we were able to distribute over seven million pounds of just produce, ” said Mary Fowler, volunteer engagement manager.

To repay food bank workers for that extra workers, Unilever’s United for America Initiative and the company Knorr delivered boxed lunches to staff at the Food Bank and at Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

Unilever said they would be delivering lunches to 200 of Feeding America member food banks throughout the summer.

“Everyone’s moving a million miles a minute, so to have a moment and to have an awesome meal like this is just so- we’re really grateful for this,” said Fowler.

The boxed lunches were also delivered to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Unilever said the organization has distributed more than 3 million pounds of food since the pandemic began.

The meals were delivered by local companies Catering Works and Bul Box.

Investing in food assistance programs

Wake County said in a news release that the money was meant to help nonprofits:

  1. Developing and Launching Community Food Hubs in Food Insecure Areas, which will establish locations for families and individuals to pick up food and other resources two to four times a month, including in the evening and on weekends;
  2. Enhancing Food Resources for Target Populations, which will provide affordable and culturally relevant food to supplement the efforts of community partners in areas of high poverty and high population; and
  3. Increasing Purchasing Power and Storage Capacity for Pantries and Food Banks by anticipating the products that will be more expensive in the fall, and giving funds to local food pantries, banks and other partners to ensure they are able to provide meat, dairy, shelf stable products and fresh produce

The funds come from the federal CARES Act.

Earlier this week, the state announced there was $900 million left in North Carolina’s share of CARES Act money. In his proposed budget, Governor Roy Cooper proposed allocating $50 million to food banks, emergency feeding organizations, and community organizations for food and nutrition assistance.

The Governor visited the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina Thursday.

Getting Help

The Food Bank works with several partner agencies to provide assistance to those in need of food.

Click here to find help with food or shelter in your area.

Click here to see opportunities for grab-and-go lunches for kids and teens.

Learn more about getting help with other benefits here.

Wake County’s COVID-19 information page has additional resources for those in need of help.

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