When you work in hunger relief, you often get the question, “Why does hunger exist?” or “What causes hunger?” And if there was an easy answer to that question, the Food Bank would not need to exist. Poverty and food insecurity can be chronic, generational, and extremely difficult to overcome. An illness, job loss, or unexpected expense can cause someone to need urgent help with food in the short term but could also cause folks to fall behind for a longer period. As we see after a hurricane impacts our service area, some folks need help only immediately after the storm. But many more are not able to deal with a small emergency, let alone a natural disaster.

Hunger is complicated and evolves based on many different factors, and the Food Bank must do the same.

When the Food Bank opened its doors in 1980, it had one employee, Executive Director Barbara Oates. She had a card table and a phone and brought in the NC State wrestling team to move things around. The last forty years have brought several hurricanes and significant damage to our area, seen the loss of major industries that had employed thousands, and we’ve endured more than one economic recession.

Barbara Oates, the first Food Bank Executive Director, in 1980.

To nourish more people, the Food Bank now has six locations in our 34-county service area, and employs staff to run programs dedicated to reaching people most in need. Our Community Health & Engagement Department helps build solutions to end hunger long-term, while developing tools to empower our communities today. And most recently, the Food Bank has a new mission and look that represents the scope of the work we do throughout our 34-county service area.

Whether you’ve been supporting the Food Bank for one year or 40, we thank you for the trust you’ve placed in us to serve people facing hunger when they need it the most.

Together, we will continue the work of nourishing people, building solutions to hunger, and empowering communities to ensure that we won’t have to be doing this work 40 years from now.

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 2019 Impact Report, published Spring 2020. Click here to view the full report.