Having marked my 20-year anniversary serving the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, I often reflect to the staff how much has changed for the better since I started in 1997. More staff, more trucks, bigger facilities, increased community support through donations and volunteers. It’s truly stunning to think back on.
Unfortunately, the need in our community never takes me by surprise in that same way, particularly in the summer. Right now, in our 34-county service area, thousands of families are worrying about how they will make ends meet this summer. Kids out of school means increased child care costs; hot weather means electric bills skyrocket; and nearly 300,000 children will not be receiving the breakfast and lunch they normally receive through the free or reduced-cost meal program at school.
These children are included in the more than 600,000 who are already struggling to put nutritious food on the table. These are parents who, despite having jobs, still can’t guarantee their paychecks will cover the food budget. These are grandparents who take on the responsibility of raising a grandchild, which means monthly food needs have doubled with no increase in income.
As an organization, we push ourselves almost to the limits to make sure these folks can put meals on the table. But it would be an impossible task without your support, and that support is critically important during this time of the year.
To help support these children and their families, the Food Bank’s focus will turn to our annual Stop Summer Hunger initiative, to raise awareness, funds, and food for those in need. Families will need to visit our partners more this summer, and we at the Food Bank need to make sure pantry shelves are stocked, and that fresh meats and produce will be available.
Let’s come together to ensure our friends and neighbors have healthy meals all summer long. With your support, we can work toward a day when no one, especially a child, goes hungry.