RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wednesday was a big day for our 37th annual ABC11 Together Food Drive.
The big day included donation locations at Food Lions across the region, a phone bank and constant updates on air and online through the ABC11 platforms. Thanks to those efforts and the generosity of North Carolinians, the ABC11 Together Food Drive soared past its goal of 1.5 million meals. As of Thursday morning, with some donations still coming in and counting still underway, the food drive had collected enough food and money to account for more than 2 million meals.
Being live at Food Lions across the Triangle and Sandhills on the final day of the food drive is a tradition at ABC11. However, this year Good Morning America chose to extend the donation efforts into the following morning.
Big thank you to our volunteers who took your donation via our phone bank.
One in six people in North Carolina are food insecure; one in four are children. Many working families, children, and seniors still struggle to consistently get nutritious food on their tables.
To fight hunger in our community, we've teamed up with Food Lion, US Foods, WakeTech, and Dunkin' to support the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast NC.
The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is seeing more and more families seeking help.
"We're still seeing new people who have never come to the food bank before. We thought we'd see a little bit of that stop after COVID. But there are still people who are navigating this system for the first time," Jennifer Caslin said.
A recent report from the USDA showed that food insecurity increased in nearly every subgroup and household type. The report also showed that food insecurity has the highest one-year increase since the Great Recession in 2008.
"Unfortunately I think the pandemic is over for a lot of people, but it's not over for folks who are already facing food insecurity or who were kind of on the line of experiencing food insecurity," Caslin said.
According to the latest consumer price index report, inflation is hitting food prices. The food index rose .3 percent in October after rising .2 percent in each of the last three months. So everyone is feeling the pinch.
"These are people who are friends, neighbors, people who go to school with your kids, might be people you sit next to at work. We just never know what's going on with somebody," Caslin said.
Second Harvest Food Bank serves seven counties in the Sandhills. The organization's director said those areas include a lot of vulnerable people who could desperately use more access to food.
"The averages in the nation is 11.8 and we have something like Robeson which is at 20% food insecure among the overall population. And then we start getting down to where we talk about kids and things of that nature; the number is even greater like 23-24% of kids," Second Harvest Food Bank Director David Griffin said.
In addition to children, older residents also often grapple with finding their next meal. Military families can sometimes also make up part of the group in need of food assistance.
"You have families that will come in and they end up making this their home and not going back to where they came from. And with single mothers having to work, pay childcare and then provide food, it makes this area a need for more help," Sandhills Family Heritage Association representative Pamela Marks said.
If you're willing and able to donate, there are a few ways available for you:
Donate to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina
Donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank (Action Pathways)