What can I say about last year? Many will look back at 2020 as one of the most challenging years in history, one that kept us apart from the things and people we love. The COVID-19 pandemic threw us into a sustained crisis mode and with a 38% increase in food insecurity.

I can’t deny this past year has been bleak. The pandemic is shining the brightest possible light on a fact we’ve known for some time – many people are one missed paycheck away from devastating circumstances. And even more people will fall deeper into poverty with little hope of digging out.

But I have also witnessed our community come together in a way I’ve not seen in my 20+ years at the Food Bank. Every single dollar you donated made it possible for us to nearly double our food distribution – whether it be a family food box, a grab-and-go meal for a child who was out of school, or keeping our partner agencies stocked. Your generosity allowed us to spend eight times our normal food purchase budget, consistently keep food on tables, put more trucks on the road, and hire a group of temporary staff to keep up with demand. Volunteers put on masks and came to our facilities to sort produce or found projects they could do for us at home. Our phones were constantly ringing and our email inboxes were and still are full of people asking, “How can we help?” or “What do you need?”

Masked volunteers load a van with boxes from a stack to the right at a drive through distribution
A masked volunteer checks a carton of eggs

Based on Feeding America data, we know that prior to the pandemic, food insecurity numbers were down in our area before COVID-19 hit. That means the Food Bank’s strategies for nourishing people, building solutions, and empowering communities were working to break the cycle of hunger. I am proud to say the Food Bank staff and Board of Directors are moving forward with these strategies alongside our crisis response.

The Food Bank was also recognized as Feeding America’s Food Bank of the Year for 2020, which is the highest distinction awarded within the network of food banks.

None of this would be possible without your unparalleled support. Each of your contributions have allowed us to provide a robust response to the great need created by the pandemic. We are humbled, especially when times are tough for everyone, that you trust us with your precious resources. I hope we can continue to work together to provide light and hope and food to our friends and neighbors.

With great thanks,

Peter Werbicki
President & CEO
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.

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