When someone is seeking urgent food assistance, chances are they won’t meet someone from the Food Bank. Instead, they’ll see Roxann at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard pantry in Wilmington as she directs traffic in their parking lot during a distribution. Patricia at St. Joseph’s pantry in Burgaw will talk with folks about their specific family needs. Melissa at Gang Free Inc. in Henderson will be making sure people at her distribution have food while gathering extra supplies for a family who had a home fire.

Ask anyone at the Food Bank and they will tell you our more than 900 partner agencies are critical to our work. Many of them rely on our organization as their primary source of food, so you are more likely to see our trucks on the roads making deliveries. You might spot a driver in a grocery store picking up donations. But our agencies are on the ground across our 34-county service area, ensuring people in our communities have food and other essential items, usually with an all-volunteer workforce. And they go above and beyond – making deliveries to homebound seniors, providing special food boxes for people with health conditions, connecting clients with other community resources, or having birthday kits on hand for parents who want to provide their child a cake.

It almost goes without saying that when the COVID-19 pandemic began, our partner agencies did not back down from the challenge. Our agencies immediately worked to put safety measures in place – everything from having masks and sanitizer on hand, to pivoting from a client-choice pantry to drive-through distributions. Many began delivering even more boxes as a stay-at-home order was put in place. With kids home from school, some served as sites for the Food Bank’s Kids Summer Meals Program, providing grab-and-go meals in place of school lunches. Almost all of the Food Bank’s partner agencies are still seeing a spike in the need, by 40% or more in some cases.

Ties with Guys Ministries in Clayton started their food pantry a few months before the pandemic and Enoch Rutherford reported the need increased dramatically in March. “To see people that still have a job but need help, I just thank God we’re able to help,” he said. They are also delivering boxes to folks who are not able to make it to their site.

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard pantry in Wilmington teamed up with the police department early in the pandemic to deliver food boxes to seniors. Even after cutting back to two distribution days, they are serving more people than ever before. “We now have far more clients coming to us in two days than we ever had in five days. Our numbers have skyrocketed,” said Roxann Lansdowne, from Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. And to keep everyone safe, they’ve recruited and trained new volunteers who are not part of high-risk populations. “Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard has always been a bridge for low-income families. Now their income a lot of times is zero.”

Your support allows the Food Bank to source, store, and stock our partner agencies with food and other essentials. It also gives us the flexibility to offer equipment to ease any logistical strains and provide them with more fresh, nutritious food, and educational material through our Healthy Pantry Program. We work to be the best resource to our partner agencies that we can be, so that together we are nourishing more people and building more resilient communities.

 
 

Your turn

If you believe in the Food Bank’s mission and would like to help support & sustain our programs, please make a donation today. Over 60% of our funding comes from individual donations by Hunger Heroes just like you! We could never do this important work alone.

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This story was originally featured in our 2020 Impact Report, published Spring 2021.