WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – During the height of the pandemic millions of people lost their jobs causing long lines to form with people looking for free food from local food banks and food pantries.
Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is one of those food banks that offered a helping hand throughout the pandemic.
Now, empty boxes and shelves is a common sight in there. A 35% increase in food insecurity has put more pressure on food banks to feed families in the community.
“We see food come and go more quickly. So, you could be here on Monday and see very normal inventory level for this size of facility, but then may come by Tuesday afternoon and it may look completely different,” said Beth Gaglione, Wilmington Branch Director for Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. “
During the height of the pandemic operations moved virtually, stopping physical, in-person food drives which in turn slowed down donations. Now, the global supply chain issues are proving challenging as well.
“Throughout the course of the pandemic, you were able to purchase food — it may have been more costly because of the supply chain issues, but we were able to purchase it. It came, but it took a long time,” Gaglione said.
Partnerships with popular retailers like Food Lion and Harris Teeter are still there, but local farmers have stepped in as well to bump food supplies.
“We will work with volunteers to sort through potatoes that have come right out of the ground and make sure that we’re sorting the good from the bad,” Gaglione said. “With sweet potatoes being the number one crop in the state, we make time and room for all the potatoes we can because they’re so high in nutrition, they’re dense and it’s a product that keeps a belly full.”
The hope is the new year will bring more donations through physical food drives, and an end to supply chain problems that’s been keeping them waiting for the next shipment to arrive.
“So we’re very cognizant that that is something that our families in our communities are looking forward to and it does put a sense of pressure on our donors, on us and on the partner agencies that we distribute food to, [to] make sure that we have what is needed for the holiday season,” Gaglione said. “Right now, all we can do is the best that we can in terms of predicting how much food is needed and how long it will take to arrive.”
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