With the cost of everything on the rise, including groceries, many North Carolina residents are turning to food banks to feed their families.
“Buying $50 worth of groceries is now $75, $80. It’s really not that nice,” said Ryan Spear, who lives in Raleigh.
Organizers of a central North Carolina group said their partner agencies had seen a 42% increase over pre-pandemic levels of people stopping to get food.
“The need has already increased over the past two months,” said Jennifer Caslin, spokeswoman for the Central and Eastern North Carolina Food Bank.
Henry McKoy, an economist at North Carolina Central University, said it’s not a bad idea for families to seek help, given the state of the economy.
“Take advantage of these support systems like food banks, like churches, things of that nature. Anywhere you can cut…cut,” he said.
Caslin said the surge in demand comes as no surprise as some North Carolina residents struggle to make ends meet.
“Because of the rising prices of things — rising gas and food prices — budgets just don’t stretch as far as they used to,” Caslin said.
The Central and Eastern North Carolina Food Bank says it distributes more than two million pounds of food a week.
The organization serves 34 counties in North Carolina. Organizers said they aim to help one in seven adults, or about 580,000 food-insecure people in the region and the 321,000 children who depend on free or reduced school meals.
“Families have already been under additional stress,” Caslin said. “It’s just not the right time to have that extra stress.”
Food bank donations typically slow down around the summer, which, combined with the growing demand for food, prevents food banks from remaining fully stocked.
“Summer is a time when we really see a spike because of these kids not being in school and not having access to meals,” Caslin said.
“It’s also a time when a lot of people don’t think about donating to food banks,” she said.
To help, the food bank is launching “Stop Summer Hunger” which aims to feed 10 million meals.
“Food is a basic need for everyone, and especially in the summer, I think kids really hit home with people. It’s very hard to think about hungry kids,” Caslin said. “Unfortunately the way things have been for the past two years, there are just far too many kids dealing with this.”
The initiative starts on Wednesday and will run until July 31.
“After the 90 days of summer these children have, they will be back in school and will have access to school meals…we hope that the help some of these people have received over the summer will help in some way. kind of help them,” Caslin said. .