Forty years ago, the Food Bank’s founders were preparing to open the doors of a small facility that would have just one employee. Our first Executive Director Barbara Oates had little more than a telephone and a file of contacts to start. It took the organization two years to reach a distribution milestone of one million pounds. Even as the first food bank in the state, I doubt our founders could have predicted how food insecurity would increase and the challenges we would meet along the way.

Growing to meet the need

The Food Bank has been able to nourish more people over the years. We opened branches in five additional communities to easily distribute more food throughout our 34-county service area. Programs like the Weekend Power Pack, Kids Summer Meals, and Kids Cafe were initiated to address child hunger, while the Commodity Supplemental Food Program nourishes seniors. We moved into larger facilities that would allow us to distribute more food, especially fresh items like produce, meat, eggs, and milk.

We moved toward building solutions to end hunger with our Community Health & Engagement department. This includes nutrition education, cooking classes, partnerships with healthcare institutions, and benefits outreach. We have also responded to weather disasters such as hurricanes Floyd, Matthew, and Florence and continued this outreach as relief efforts transitioned into recovery and resiliency work.

More Food Bank history

There have been many more milestones throughout the years, and I invite you to learn more about how the Food Bank has made an impact over 40 years at foodbankcenc.org/40. We will also debut a podcast in the Fall that will tell the story of the Food Bank’s past, present, and future.

There are still great challenges ahead, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may bring levels of food insecurity in line with the Great Recession. In the last year, the Food Bank has distributed more than 91 million pounds of food — a pace unimaginable in our early years. We are so thankful that you have trusted us and invested in the work we do, whether you’ve been supporting us from the beginning, or perhaps just joined us. And with your continued support, we will be able to realize the vision of no one going hungry.

Thank you for making our work possible,

Peter Werbicki
President & CEO
Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

A Note from Our Board Chair, Octavio Soares

I always believed that food is a way to share love. My father experienced hunger when he was a child, after my grandfather passed away. Because of that, I have been committed to helping others going through the same struggle.

I began serving the Food Bank during the “So All May Eat” campaign, which funded the Hunger Solution Center in Raleigh and broadened our work towards ultimately ending hunger in our community. I became a member of the Food Bank board in 2017 and have served as chair of the Operations and Human Resources committees. I now have the honor of being the Board Chair.

From the beginning, I have been impressed by this amazing organization and its people. It is not enough for them to do the everyday work to help those living with food insecurity. They also focus on building solutions to shorten the line or reduce food insecurity more permanently. They have persevered through hurricanes and now through a pandemic without skipping a beat. Their resilience inspires me. But they could not do this work without your support. Because of you, I am confident that we will succeed in our mission: Nourish people. Build solutions. Empower communities.

Thank you all for your hard work and dedication, and let us work together, so #NoOneGoesHungry!


Octavio Soares
Board Chair
Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina


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.

Donate Now

These letters were originally featured in our Hunger Matters newsletter, published Fall 2020.