By Jessica Ledbetter, Outreach Coordinator

As the Outreach Coordinator for our Sandhills Branch service area, I work with and support 100 partner agencies in four counties, helping to leverage community relationships of the Food Bank and of the partner agency network to collectively generate and distribute more food to provide to people at risk of hunger. And as the Food Bank, that’s our number one goal.

But many agencies across our 34 county service area do more than simply provide emergency food—they also provide other resources people may need such as access to affordable housing and job training, helping them find more permanent solutions to their current circumstances and move forward with their lives. And as a leader in hunger relief, that matters to us as well.

Youth Financial ClassOne example of such an initiative is the Woodforest Bank  Money Matters Youth Class at the Leak Street Education and Cultural Center, one of our partner agencies and summer feeding sites in Rockingham, NC. The class helps students learn ways to save money at an early age, and to recognize and avoid financial practices that could lead to debt and low credit scores in adulthood. Each class participant receives a guide that includes interactive worksheets, checklist tip sheets and a glossary that explains financial terms covered in the class. They also learn how to calculate tips and sales tax when purchasing items. Ultimately, these classes help students become financially stable and conscious adults, empowered to make financial goals and able to meet them.

The class is held during their regular summer feeding session, hosted by Brenda Davis, a Leak Street classroom teacher, and taught by Melissa Salverson, Branch Manager for Woodforest National Bank in Southern Pines and member of our Sandhills Regional Council.

It’s rewarding, to me, working with the Food Bank and its partner agencies to provide financial literacy classes and see the welcome reception from adults and youth trying to learn and improve their lives.  —Melissa Salverson, Branch Manager, Woodforest National Bank

Youth Financial Class

Melissa has been instrumental in implementing and growing these financial classes. These classes will undoubtedly have a strong impact on these young adults’ lives, and we are so grateful to Melissa and Woodforest Bank for their continued support.

Partnerships like this help us look beyond temporary food assistance and address the root causes of chronic food insecurity and poverty. To put it simply, I believe that the more people know about how to manage their finances, the more likely they are to increase savings and improve their financial well-being, ultimately breaking the cycle of poverty. A lofty goal, to be sure, but one I believe we can achieve together.