Food insecurity a real threat to northeastern counties

Published 3:15 pm Wednesday, June 10, 2020

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By Liz Reasoner

Executive Director

Food Bank of the Albemarle

The Food Bank of the Albemarle provided approximately 131,000 meals in Tyrrell County in 2019.

In the Food Bank’s 15-county service area Beaufort and Pasquotank received the most meals, more than 1 million each, last year.

FBA data show that 830 Tyrrell residents — 20% of the population — are “food insecure” and that FBA last year distributed 157,158 pounds of food in Tyrrell, which translates to 130,965 meals.

Ordinarily, 830 people, eating three meals a day, will consume 908,850 meals a year.

But, the “total meals gap” in Tyrrell is 141,800 meals; FBA supplied 130,965 meals, so an unmet gap of !0,835 meals existed.

The reality is that 41 million people are food insecure in the United States, including 16.5% of people living in North Carolina. It is higher right here in northeast North Carolina where 15.4% of the population lives with Food Insecurity.

That means 52,900 people in northeast North Carolina towns and neighborhoods do not have regular access to enough food for a healthy, active life.  For children, the number is even higher:  22% of children face hunger right here in Bertie, Beaufort, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Martin, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell, Washington — that is more than one in five children.

Each of those 52,900 individuals is worried about having enough to eat.  Our clients are children, families, veterans, students, senior citizens, single parents, the unemployed and underemployed — hunger can affect anyone.

At the Food Bank of the Albemarle, we believe the prevalence of hunger in our community is unacceptable. We have the expertise to fight food insecurity in northeast North Carolina, but we cannot do it alone.

It is only through sophisticated and innovative partnerships that we can solve these problems and continue to serve the hungry families that rely on our services every day.

The Food Bank of the Albemarle is proud to be a member of the nationwide Feeding America network of 200 food banks leading the fight against hunger in the United States. Likewise, we are members of a statewide association of Feeding America Food Banks collaborating on initiatives that address hunger in all 100 counties in North Carolina.

Our membership with Feeding America affords us access to some of the best data and research reports regarding domestic hunger. One such report is Hunger in America and the other is Map the Meal Gap report.

This study of hunger has been conducted on a quadrennial cycle since 1993.

Map the Meal Gap Report provides a detailed assessment of the food insecurity gap and the estimated food cost necessary to close the meal gap.

The annual meal gap in the Food Bank of the Albemarle’s 15 county region of northeast NC is 10,275,469 meals annually. In 2016-2017, the FBA provided food for the equivalent of 5.2 million meals. The Board of Directors adopted the Bold Goal agreeing to focus resources toward closing the meal gap by 2025.

We believe that no person should sacrifice food for basic necessities such as shelter, heat, or medicine; consequently we will aggressively work to bring enough food into northeast North Carolina to close the meal gap.