HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As summer is nearly here, one local food bank is struggling to meet the high demand to prevent food insecurities in Northern Orange County. The Orange Congregations In Mission is asking for donations and volunteers to help put food on the shelves.

As many families are still recovering from the pandemic and dealing with the expensive prices from inflation, executive director Rev. Sharon Freeland said they need assistance.

“Every summer it is so difficult to keep food on the shelfs,” Rev. Freeland said.

Freeland said it’s been difficult getting people to donate and volunteer because they just don’t have the time or money. But the need is greater.

“Some people aren’t working and that’s still the case. Food is more expensive. Housing, a lot of the money for our recipient go to housing. You pay the rent and try to get food some place else. And a lot of times we are that some place else,” she explained.

With a referral from the Department of Social Services, the group provides food, clothing, medicine and a lot of other things for families in need.

Fifty congregations who are apart of OCIM, give the non-profit an assessment every year and they help provide the food. OCIM also relies on donations from local businesses and community members as well.

Freeland explained that the inflation has forced a lot of families to rely on food banks.

“People think we just see the homeless. We see all kinds of families. Mom and Dad are both working but gas is so expensive. So they have to put money in the tank just to get to work. So this summer is going to be extremely difficult,” Freeland said.

OCIM made this post on their Facebook June 10:

Hello, friends! We need your help to assist the many people for whom summer is challenging. Please see our summer list to help us restock our shelves!

Orange Congregations In Mission Facebook page

Hillsborough Police Department saw the post and acted quickly. They initiated a plan to fill up multiple patrol cars full of food.

“Service for us is beyond just law enforcement. Our role is to serve the community and protect. And sometimes the protect means finding ways to help provide for folks who need help,” Chief Duane Hampton said.

Chief Hampton said they’ve partnered with OCIM over the years but this is the first time they’ve created the fill up the patrol car method. But the calling is still the same.

“Folks are driven to desperate means by the conditions they’re in. Trying to find ways to address those conditions to support the people before they get to that point is critical,” Chief Hampton explained.

Hearing the news brought a moment of gratitude for Freeland.

“When they said they were going to do that our hearts were blessed. It was almost weeping time,” she said.

CBS 17 watched as people walked up and dropped off their items inside of a bin outside of the police headquarters or in person.

HPD’s plan is to collect as many items as they can before dropping them off at OCIM June 24.

Rev. Freeland said people can help by purchasing additional items in the grocery store and drop them off at OCIM or HPD headquarters.  

“Put an extra couple of cans in your basket. Some peanut butter, some jelly, some child friendly items,” she said.

For more information on OCIM click here. Those interested in becoming a volunteer can click here.