Turkey, stuffing, casseroles, and pies are all items that many Americans know will be on their tables on Thanksgiving Day, often in excess.
This year, more than 16.9% of people in Craven County won’t be so sure.
Feed America projected that 17,280 residents of Craven County faced food insecurity in 2020 and 5,500 were children. The numbers have declined in recent years, but COVID-19 has pushed the numbers up again.
The eastern food bank region of central and eastern North Carolina has seen its food aid needs increase by about 38% since the pandemic.
Nationally, one in eight people is food insecure, or 42 million Americans.
âFood insecure is someone who struggles to have enough financial resources to put meals on their table,â said George Young, regional director of the Eastern Central and Eastern Food Bank. from North Carolina. “So they make choices: ‘how to stay in my home, how to pay my rent, do I buy new shoes for my child, do I fix my car to get to work, or do I buy food?
Food insecurity is separate from the idea of ââhunger and the United States Department of Agriculture defines it as âA constant lack of access to enough food for an active and healthy lifeâ. Poverty is not synonymous with food insecurity and can be experienced above and below the poverty line.
The New Bern branch of the food bank is located at 1702 Red Robin Lane and distributed nearly five million pounds of food in its last fiscal year. Every day, he makes deliveries to pantries across the region for people to receive food insecure relief.
On December 10, they coordinate news channel 12 Share Your Christmas Food and Fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. People can drop off food and cash donations at the Piggly Wiggly store at 1208 Simmons Street.
Last year, the event amounted to 172,000 meals for people in difficulty in the New Bern area.
Donations by check and cash are accepted and can also be made online through the food bank’s website: foodbankcenc.org.
Young said unemployment is not the only cause of food insecurity. Many people who go through their food chains are employed and sometimes have multiple jobs, but still struggle to make ends meet.
The elderly also constitute a large part of those in a situation of food insecurity, having a spouse recently deceased and not yet wishing to go to a retirement home and leave their residence.
âYou will see seasonal people in the food chain, you will see people coming to the food chain regularly, or you can see people coming in from time to time,â Young said. âThere are all kinds of combinations of reasons people can be food insecure. “
In more rural areas of eastern North Carolina, food deserts contribute to the lack of fresh, nutritious food. There are often no large grocery chains offering fresh vegetables, meat, fruit or dairy products, even for people who have enough income to buy them.
The New Bern branch of the food bank serves Carteret, Craven, Jones, Onslow and Pamlico County, where more than 60,000 people go hungry.
âIt’s pretty amazing how many people struggle to put food on their tables or stretch their household budgets. I think we have some of the poorest counties in the state and if you drive in some of those communities it’s pretty devastating, âYoung said.
Living in a food insecure household affects more than what a person will or will not eat. It is a ripple effect in all aspects of a person’s life.
For children, the lack of nutritious foods affects their ability to stay awake in school and hinders their education. The graduation rates of the 5,500 currently food insecure children in Craven County could be influenced.
At Vidant Medical Center, when it is discovered that a patient is food insecure, they use the food as a prescription to help with heart conditions, low blood pressure and other ailments, linking patients to their local pantry, Young s
âThere are huge ripple effects medically, mentally and financially at all levels when people experience food insecurity,â Young said.
Food insecurity in numbers, according to Feeding America
- 2020: 17,280 individuals; 16.9% of the county population
- 2019: 15,220 individuals; 14.9% of the county population
- 2018: 15,460 individuals; 15% of the county population
- 2017: 15,610 individuals; 15.1% of the county population
- 2016: 16,060 individuals; 15.4% of the county population
- 2015 : 17,230 individuals; 16.5% of the county population
Food insecurity 2020 in neighboring countries
- Carteret: 11,010 people; 15.9% of the county population
- Jones: 1,900 individuals; 19.8% of the county population
- At idle: 33,960 individuals; 17.4% of the county population
- Pamlico: 1,960 individuals; 15.5% of the county population
Young said the best way to get involved in tackling food insecurity right now is through financial donations. Each dollar donated provides 5 meals or $ 10 of food. Of every dollar donated, 97 cents goes directly to meal programs or food distribution.
âRight now, the biggest need is financial support with the supply chain slowing in the country,â Young said. âWe find ourselves in the position of having to go out and get food and pay for it so that there is enough to distribute to the community. “
Growth and Development reporter Julia Masters can be reached at [email protected] or 828-318-3108.