'It's a major issue': Donors, food pantries work to address food insecurity

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Friday, July 29, 2022
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As volunteers move palettes of food inside Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina in Fayetteville, Amrtha Moses waits outside to fill up a van to disperse donations.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- As volunteers move palettes of food inside Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina in Fayetteville, Amrtha Moses waits outside to fill up a van to disperse donations.

"Once a month, we give out food. And we give it out from 3 to 5 p.m., but the people are lining up at 12 p.m.," said Moses, referring to her church, New Jerusalem Church of Christ.

Wednesday's Consumer Price Index report showed inflation hit 9.1% in June, the highest figure since December 1981.

"When we are getting our reports from our member agencies who distribute food in our communities, they're showing a 30% increase in new people coming to the pantry," said Food Bank Executive Director David Griffin, who called food insecurity "a major issue" in the region.

According to Second Harvest, one in four people, including one in six children, face hunger in the region.

"Supply chain has been very difficult because they take a little longer to get here than it normally would be. Prices are a little bit higher when we go out and purchase it for ourselves," Griffin shared, adding they work with about 1,500 seniors on a monthly basis.

To try and fill coverage gaps, the Food Bank is engaging in outreach efforts.

"We're also doing mobile distribution at some school locations to help out those families. We're doing a summer feeding (program) until September 30th, to bring those produce and frozen meals out to them so kids can have it. We're trying to work with other agencies which have kids," said Griffin.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill believe the Food Donation Improvement Act could help increase donations.

"Companies and business--they don't know that they are actually entitled to tax enhancements, so we're trying to make that clearer for everyone so that they have no doubt that the right thing to do with their surplus food is to donate it. And right now, farmers are actually left out of that tax enhancement. So we want to make sure that the folks who are making our food and working so hard also have tax enhancements when they do the right thing with their surplus food," said Regina Anderson, the Executive Director of Food Recovery Network, a non-profit organization backing the bill.

"People don't have enough financial security to buy the food that they need. That includes farmers, who are also on the margins of being able to feed their families. When we can actually use those tax enhancements to support companies to do the right thing, that means they are able to get more money from something they've already paid to grow, paid to transport, purchase in any kind of way, that helps to incentivize more donations," said Anderson.