RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Access to healthy food can be difficult for families. According to Wake County, 12 percent of residents are food insecure.

Neighborfood Express delivers free food, diapers and books to families facing food insecurity in Raleigh. The Marcus Harris foundation started the program in Nov. 2020 to help families facing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We started out serving only a few different zip codes in the areas that we identified as having high need, but we kept getting requests from different people in different neighborhoods that we didn’t serve, and we really wanted to help, but we just didn’t have the resources,” Harris said.

The program expanded into 10 new neighborhoods after a $20,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

“We view food insecurity as one of the most critical non-medical drivers of health,” David Shaw said, the Senior Program Manager on the Community and Diversity Engagement team at Blue Cross NC.

Harris said Neighborfood Express delivers to 20 neighborhoods across northeast and southeast Raleigh, serving more than 1,000 families per month.

Harris uses data from the Wake County Social Equity Atlas Map and the USDA Food Desert map
to identify areas with the greatest need.

Lisa Hyman and her family have been using the service since April.

The boys look forward to the book delivery so they have something new to read for storytime. Hyman, like many people Neighborfood Express serves, doesn’t own a car, which can make buying produce tough.

“As you see I don’t have a car no more, so when they do deliveries it’s good because I don’t have transportation to get there,” Hyman said.

The need has grown.

Harris said about 75 to 100 people sign up weekly, compared to about 50 in 2020. He thinks it’s due to inflation.

Linda Cooley has been using the service for her and her grandkids for about one year.

“It’s wonderful,” Cooley said. “I’ve gone out at times and got groceries — and groceries are so high now — this help every week or so, it just fills in the gaps.”

Harris said they’ve helped reduce food insecurity in neighborhoods they serve by about 6 or 7 percent.

There are weekly deliveries in the 27601, 27604 and 27610 zip codes. Click here to learn more about how to sign up for Neighborfood Express.