Food banks continue to see increased need as holidays approach

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sharp increase in need at local food pantries.

"Nearly 760,000 people in our service area could be food insecure due to the pandemic," said Jennifer Caslin, the Marketing & Project Manager at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

It reports a 38% increase in need, with many of those people reaching out for the first time.

"That ranges anywhere from people that were already struggling to people who are struggling for the first time because they've never been through something like this before because maybe they lost a job or hours have been cut," Caslin said.

On Giving Tuesday, donations are triple matched, thanks to thanks to our partners Delta Air Lines, GFL Environmental, and Railinc. That means a $1 donation equals 15 meals.

"It makes it hit home every single time that you meet someone who needs food assistance and needs foot help that I really could be anyone that could end up in this situation. Tomorrow it could be me, or somebody in my family, or it could be a neighbor," Caslin said.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina was named Food Bank of the Year for 2020 by Feeding America. That's one of the highest honors awarded by the national association.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina is seeing a 40% increase in need.

"It's really heartbreaking right now because as a parent you want to take care of your family and your kids. And there's nothing more distressful than knowing you're having a difficult time taking care of your children," said David Griffin, Second Harvest's Food Bank Director.

In its seven-county region, Second Harvest reports one in six people are food insecure, one of four of who are children.

"You see the pain in their heart because their child is asking why can't they have something else (to eat). And so many people are out there are dealing with that same type of thing," Griffin said.

ABC11 is teaming up with both food banks as part of our ABC11 Together Food Drive, which runs through December 9. To learn how you can get involved, click here.
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