On May 31, WRAL reporter Aaron Thomas shared that North Carolina food banks are reporting an increase in families needing help. Thomas attributed this increase to a variety of factors, including inflation stretching family’s budgets thin, grocery and gas prices rising, and the absence of kids from school, where many access free and reliable meals. He reported that organizers with one central NC group that aid their partner agencies have seen a 42 percent increase over pre-pandemic levels of people stopping in to get food assistance. Furthermore, agencies like food pantries and food banks are suffering from a summer phenomenon of food donations slowing down, making it difficult for these agencies to stay fully stocked. Our UMWC food pantry’s dedicated staff and volunteers work tirelessly each day to make sure our clients have the nutrition they need to sustain through this time of uncertainty.
Our Hunger and Nutrition program serves meals to dozens of families daily through a curbside pick-up model. In the last 11 months, our pantry has served more than 10,000 families. Outside of the pantry’s perimeter, the program also serves those in the community stricken by financial hardship and hunger. One example of this is a new program we call Project Pivot. This program consists of partnerships with other organizations in Wake County such as SouthLight Healthcare, Families Together, Wake County Human Services, Resiliency Collaborative, and Passage Home. These partnerships help us remain closer to the ground to families considered most food insecure and underserved. About 150 families experiencing food insecurity have been identified and receive food tailored to their individual needs once a week for 12 months. We have continued to meet our goal of providing at least 50 percent fresh produce and fresh and frozen meats.
Our program is also keeping pace with technology advancements to able to serve our clients with optimum efficiency. We’ve partnered with Cisco to develop a system designed specifically for UMWC. This system will simplify client intake and measurement with each family acquiring its own personal identifier. These are only a few ways our Hunger and Nutrition program impacts the lives of underserved and food insecure families around Wake County and we will continue to do everything we can to eradicate hunger for as many as possible.
If you want to be involved in our mission, consider donating to our Summer Hunger Challenge. The 4 Others Foundation challenged UMWC to raise $25,000 by July 31, 2022. The funds will support our Food Pantry. $25,000 will feed 862 families each, for a week. Because this is a challenge match, your impact can be doubled by the 4 Others Foundation should we meet our goal. To donate, visit https://urbanmin.salsalabs.org/2022hungerchallenge. There’s nothing that we can’t achieve together.
Written by Jessica Alexander and Development Intern, Bella Petruccione