Helping youth avoid food insecurity

Food insecurity is a difficult term to understand, as is hunger in the United States – it’s a daunting and persistent crisis. Food insecurity is defined as “the inability to consistently access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for an active and healthy lifestyle.” For example, children and families in food-insecure households often have parents working one or more jobs, but their paychecks don’t cover all the bills. This means tough choices.

We also know that providing food alone does not resolve food insecurity. This is why the Food Bank developed our Community Health & Engagement Department – to help our friends and neighbors avoid and overcome food insecurity.

Recently the Food Bank hosted interns through a three-month partnership with Wake County, NCWorks Nextgen, and Wake Tech Community College. Each young person was placed in a different department of the Food Bank based on their interests and spent the morning working with our staff. In the afternoon they took classes from Wake Tech instructors. The curriculum covered writing resumes, dealing with conflict, and improving cooking skills by learning recipes and then taking the ingredients home to cook the meal again.Patrick

Patrick, a 19-year-old intern and recent high school graduate, worked at a fast-food restaurant and didn’t plan to attend college. While he was at the Food Bank, he was able to brush up on Microsoft Excel and learn database skills. Patrick worked with our Organizational Partnership Team to help secure over $7,500 in various grants. Patrick also had the chance to interact with corporate donors, other Food Bank staff, and people coming to receive emergency food. At the end of his internship, Patrick enrolled in classes at Wake Tech and now dreams of opening his own business and giving back. But before that, he will spend the summer as a manager of a local food-service business.

August 2018 Update:
After his internship, Patrick took some classes at Wake Tech. He then took a shot at applying to Winston-Salem State University and going to school full time…and got in! “I can’t thank everyone for all that they did to inspire me to pursue school and to never give up,” he said. Congratulations Patrick!

“I was able to gain so much more from this internship than I thought I was going to, working with the people in my department,” Patrick reflected at the end of his internship.

Our other interns fared quite well, too. One became certified to drive a forklift, and another had already secured a job before the program ended. A terrific duo worked with our Three Squares for CENC Benefits Outreach Program, and their work resulted in more than $150,000 in SNAP benefits for our friends and neighbors.

We hope this experience will be a launching pad for these young people and that they will apply the skills they learned – whether continuing their education, finding a good job, managing their personal budgets, or cooking healthy meals – to avoid food insecurity.

Your support allows us to develop partnerships like this that address the root causes of hunger. Together we can help move our friends and neighbors out of food insecurity!