RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wednesday marks the 36th Annual ABC11 Together Food Drive in partnership with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina (FBCENC) as well as the Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina in Fayetteville. ABC11's goal this year is to raise $1.8 million for the food banks.
There are 130,000 people facing food insecurity in southeastern North Carolina and another 500,000 struggling with hunger in eastern and central North Carolina according to the food banks. The pandemic exacerbated the issue, as food insecurity is up 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels. The issue has worsened because of inflation, given the rises in food and gas prices. FBCENC reported that trucking costs are up 20% since 2021.
Volunteers say the families they distribute food to are often overcome with excitement when donated food comes to their doors.
"When they'd receive the food, some would cry, some would be very appreciative, all kinds of emotions -- especially when they had children," said Pamela Marks, a Second Harvest volunteer from the Sandhills Family Heritage Association (SFHA), a partnering agency.
Patricia Moore is also a Second Harvest volunteer from SFHA.
"The gratitude is phenomenal," Moore said. "We are humbled by what we see for the people that we serve. It's not about us. It's about being available and making resources available for those that are underprivileged."
The volunteers noted that because demand is so high in the Sandhills, Second Harvest typically has at least 50 boxes ready to go at any given time. Each box provides 30 pounds of food.