Food pantries are anticipating low-income people will need more support through food donations as federal COVID relief ends this month.
The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and the Second Harvest Food Bank say they've been making special preparations, giving more food to their partnering agencies to brace themselves for the demand.
"Our partner agencies, those are our pantries and the soup kitchens serving folks directly, are telling us that they're seeing between a 25% and 40% increase because of inflation. And so again, kind of knowing that this is about to change the environment again, we're anticipating that folks are going to be needing more support from us and are from our pantries," said Jessica Slider Whichard of the Food Bank.
Families in North Carolina have been receiving at least an extra $95 a month since March 2020 from the state's Department of Health and Human Services's COVID relief program. Now that those emergency payments are coming to an end payments for the average person in the program is dropping from about $8 a day to less than $5.50. The food banks acknowledge this as a major blow, as they serve over 600,000 food-insecure people in the area. However, even with the COVID cuts, they say there is help:
"No one is alone in this," Whichard said. "There are resources that we want to be able to connect you with, that our partner agencies in your community wanna be able to connect you with and that exist for use. We don't want to see anybody, you know, choosing between rent and food, or, you know, choosing to feed their children and parents not eating themselves."
Authorities are also urging people to look out for the more vulnerable people in their communities through donating money and offering support.
"(W)e ask everyone to advocate on their behalf, because it could be your neighbor, it could be a family member, could be a child at your school, your child go to school with," said David Griffin, the food bank director of Action Pathways, the parent company of Second Harvest.
Those looking to help are encouraged to contact their local food bank to donate food, money or their time through volunteering.
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