RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Duke Energy, along with the food bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, are working to fight hunger in our area.

On Wednesday, about 100 volunteers gathered for the Downtown Raleigh Yam Jam.

With purple mesh bags and a lot of helping hands, these volunteers are fighting hunger with 40,000 pounds sweet potatoes set to be delivered to the food bank’s partner agencies. 

“Those 40,000 pounds are the equivalent of about 34,000 meals for families in need across North Carolina,” said Amy Strecker, Duke Energy’s Foundation Director 

All the sweet potatoes packaged at the event are locally sourced from farmers across the region. 

Jennifer Caslin with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina says nearly 600,000 people in our area go hungry every day.

With the cost of food and gas on the rise, the need is only growing. 

“Anecdotally were hearing about 42% of people are coming probably because of the rise in costs, people are just not able to stretch those budgets as far as they were before,” said Caslin.

Volunteers told CBS 17 they came out Wednesday thinking of the families in need.

“I’ve got three kids and I can’t imagine them being hungry so anything that we can do to kind of help get back. I donate to food banks all the time for that very reason because I feel for those families,” said Joseph Orlando-Dobert. 

Kim Crawford volunteered on behalf of Duke Energy.

“It’s a good way to give back to the community and it feels like an important thing to do especially in this time when things, prices are so expensive and people are struggling,” said Crawford.

The Food Banks of Central and Eastern NC says all the sweet potatoes packaged from Wednesday’s event will go on a truck to be delivered to their six branches and 800 partner agencies.