Pandemic Impact: 38% increase in need across central & eastern North Carolina

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt throughout our service area, in communities large and small. According to Feeding America, estimates of the impact of COVID-19 are projecting increased food insecurity in line with the Great Recession. People have lost jobs and healthcare, children have been home for months – in many cases without access to school meals. Families who couldn’t afford to miss one paycheck or even one shift at work are being forced to make impossible choices between paying for rent or putting food on the table.

Prior to COVID-19, our data from Feeding America showed approximately 545,000 people in our 34-county service area were facing hunger, 180,000 of those being children. The projected number of food-insecure people in our 34 counties is now more than 756,000 neighbors, with 253,000 being children. That’s approximately a 38% increase.

Greater need, greater support

The Food Bank and our partner agencies have been there for our friends and neighbors during this pandemic, drawing on some of the things we learned from our response to the Great Recession. Former Food Bank Chairperson of the Board Al Ragland sees “a strong need, as there was during the recession, due to job loss, strain on the economy, and people feeling a lack of control in their life situation.”

Although it’s easy to get lost in the figures, each number represents a real neighbor going through a hard time. This includes Walter, who at 65 was retired, but maintained a side business for extra income. The single parent of a 17-year-old had never been out of work in his life until now. He’d also never had to seek out emergency food. Staff at our Wilmington Branch referred him to nearby Food Bank partner agency First Fruit Ministries, where he was pleasantly surprised by the selection of meat and fresh produce along with shelf-stable goods. He was also grateful for the kind people saying, “Today was the first day in a while that I have been in a good mood.”

It is because of your overwhelming support that the Food Bank and our partner agencies can help people like Walter and his son. Our community will likely be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic long into the future and the Food Bank will be there for the long haul, so our friends like Walter can have more good days than bad. Thank you for your incredible generosity – it not only allows us to keep doing this work, but it is a huge boost to our spirits in this trying time.

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 Hunger Matters newsletter, published Fall 2020.