Amid pandemic, demand up 40% at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, organization says

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Enoch Rutherford spent last Friday morning loading boxes of food on the back of a pickup truck outside of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

“The demand on food is high,” said Rutherford as he stopped to take a brief break.

Rutherford said he’s seeing the demand firsthand through his outreach. He runs “Ties for Guys Men’s Ministry.” It’s one of the 900 partner agencies of the Food Bank.

“We have some people who can’t even afford to come pick up the food. So, we will take some boxes, make some boxes, and go to their house and deliver them,” said Rutherford.

He’s new to food outreach, but in the last three months, Rutherford said the need jumped between 30 and 40 percent.

“To see people who have a job and still need help. I thank God we are able to help meet the need,” he said.

Sadly, it’s a need that isn’t unique. “It’s still a 40-percent increase over where we were last year,” explained Jessica Whichard, director of communications for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina

CBS 17 first caught up with Whichard in May at what was then considered the height of the pandemic. The Food Bank needed the help of the National Guard to assist in getting food out. Six months later, the National Guard is back and so is the need.

“A lot of people who are new to the hunger relief system, who were making things work paycheck to paycheck, but with hours cut, furloughs and things like that, they need more support for their families,” said Whichard.

She said the Food Bank this year spent $2.3 million on purchasing food. That’s twice as much as their typical budget.

“We had to make sure we’re keeping that level of food consistent, even when the supply chain was challenged. So, going into the holidays, whether there’s a pandemic or not, there’s a spike in need for us and I think we will see that even more so this year,” continued Whichard.

The Food Bank launched a new resource for families who may be in need. There’s a food finder feature on its website. Plug-in your zip code and food pantries in your community will pop up.

If you’re in a position to donate, you can drop off donations at 1924 Capital Blvd. in Raleigh.

There are volunteers in place to help unload food donations safely, who are dressed in masks and gloves.

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