Guest Blog: My visit with the Food Bank


By Crystal Dee, Food Bank CENC Social Media Ambassador.  This content originally appeared on yourfoodallergyguide.com, and has been reposted with permission.


You may not know this, but I decided to become a Social Media Ambassador for the Food Bank in my area. When invited to tour the facility, my answer was obviously, heck yes!

HISTORY

The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina was born in 1980 and within two years of being open – it distributed its ONE MILLIONTH pound of food. IN TWO YEARS! That is some serious work and dedication.

OUTREACH

The Food Bank actually covers a 34-county service area and serves has a distributor to smaller food pantry locations AND partners.  They have more than 800 partner agencies to be exact. The Raleigh warehouse they are in currently is 85,000 square feet in size and can house foods of all kinds. In fact, ABOUT 40% of their food is fresh produce, 20% is frozen/refrigerated and the other 40% is dry goods. I was really pleased to see that there was a good amount of produce and frozen foods as a selection. Everything is neatly organized based on category – produce, breads, poultry, canned goods etc. Can you guess the two most common foods you can find at the Food Bank?

Mt. Olive Pickles and Sweet Potatoes!!!!

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Here is a more specific break-down of the foods they distribute:

18-19 Distribution Percentages

COMMUNITY HEALTH AND ENGAGEMENT

I was surprised to learn that the Food Bank promotes and supports MANY programs. There was, however, a program that really stood out to me (as a Nutrition student): the Community Health and Engagement department.

This department focuses on developing a sound nutrition policy across the organization and developing education curriculum to use on-site or for partnering agencies to utilize. This also includes holding cooking classes that teach partners or families in need how to use available ingredients to create a nutritious meal for their family. They also really focus on making sure children receive proper nutrition – in order to accomplish this, they work hard to create some tasty food to match the “kid’s palette.” I was able to meet some members of the team and watch them work their magic in the kitchen. They actually develop the recipes on-site in their very own kitchen!

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Snapshot from my IG story video

I was really excited to see that they were working with a local brand {Glean} that develops nutritious gluten-free flour! I am hoping to try their product and review it sometime soon. Here is a link to their website: https://liveglean.com/

In addition to developing recipes and teaching cooking methods, they are also responsible for connecting with valuable resources that can help provide nutritionally sound foods other than just dry goods. Here is a cool Q&A article that I found on their website: Three questions (and answers) about our new Community Health & Engagement Department

HURRICANE FLORENCE

Hurricane Florence caused about $17 billion dollars’ worth of damage to North Carolina – alone. There were many members of the community left without power and had their homes completely destroyed. Not only that, but they had no access to clean water, hygiene products or food.

The Food Bank distributed 7.4 million pounds of food, water and supplies for the disaster relief as of December, with support efforts still ongoing. Supplies not only included food, but also cleaning supplies and hygiene products. During the peak of disaster relief, FoodAllergyAwareness.org reached out to the food bank to offer their services and resources to make allergy-friendly foods available to those in need. I was so happy to learn that since this connection between organizations was established, the Food Bank is now integrating allergy-friendly foods into their mainstream of foods available to the community. While it is not a large program at this point, I am really looking forward to seeing this grow in the future.

It is so amazing to me that the Food Bank not only aims to stop the hunger crisis AND strives to educate the population on how to make a healthy meal with the proper ingredients and also teaching the skills in the kitchen!

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

  1. Host a Food Drive
  2. Volunteer at the facility
  3. Host a Virtual Food Drive
  4. Attend a special event
  5. Donate, donate, donate
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I want to give a HUGE thank you to the Food Bank for having me. It really is a pleasure and an honor to be a part of such an impactful organization, even in such a small way! Looking forward to working more with you in 2019!

-Your Food Allergy Guide


Crystal Dee is a full time office professional, part-time lifestyle model, and full-time Grad student who is passionate about health and wellness.
She lives in Raleigh with her boyfriend, two dogs, and two cats and travels quite a bit. She is enrolled in the online Applied Nutrition program at the University of New England and on her way towards becoming a Certified Nutrition Specialist! Crystal is also a 
Social Media Ambassador for Food Bank CENC