One in seven go hungry in North Carolina

Posted 05/18/11

Lt. Governor Walton’s piece

One in seven go hungry in North Carolina
The Herald Sun

By Walter Dalton

Special to The Herald-Sun

Throughout my tenure as lieutenant governor, I have traveled to every part of our state. Even in the midst of the global recession, North Carolinians have shown themselves to be generous, hardworking, resilient and forward-thinking. We face many challenges as a state and are poised to meet them.

One issue, however, has not received the attention it deserves: hunger.

During these tough economic times in North Carolina, the hunger problem is increasing. Economic stress is forcing parents to choose among buying food, getting medical help, paying rent, bills and mortgages, or having enough gasoline to get to work or look for a job. Now more than ever, we cannot risk children starting out at a disadvantage and no one should fall through the cracks.

North Carolina is tied with Louisiana for the highest percentage of hungry children — one in four children under the age of 5 goes hungry. Food is a basic human need and our dismal standing with regard to childhood hunger should sadden us all. This statistic and others in the latest report from the national Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) add up to a near-critical situation in North Carolina.

According to FRAC, which bases its research on surveys, nearly one in four people in North Carolina struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families in 2010.

North Carolina is also home to several urban centers with the highest levels of food hardship in the nation, including Winston-Salem at No. 3, Greensboro at No. 4 and Asheville in the seventh slot in the country.

Fortunately, there are people across the state who make it their business, either as volunteers or professionals, to confront the issue and try to solve it.

While government plays a part, there are many things government cannot do alone, especially as we are all doing more with less. That’s why volunteer and corporate involvement is so essential.

As North Carolinians, we should be proud that we have Feeding America food banks operating at seven major locations across the state. These food banks cover all 100 of the state’s counties and provide food assistance for an estimated 1,434,000 different people annually — about 1 in 7 North Carolinians.

The food banks are aligned with more than 2,700 partner agencies helping with emergency food assistance. During 2010, the state’s food banks distributed more than 100 million pounds of food and other grocery products, equal to about 83 million meals and valued at more than $159 million.

While these statistics are impressive, we must do more. Our charitable organizations, faith-based institutions, civic groups and especially public officials and lawmakers must partner with the average citizen to face this crisis and put it behind us. Hunger is not a partisan issue.

I am pleased to share with you that the North Carolina Pork Council (NCPC) and the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks have joined to combat childhood hunger in North Carolina. This partnership is a great example of a private enterprise and a non-profit working together to get something done.

Their campaign, The Food Effect, is under way now and relies on an online network designed to educate, involve and unite citizens in the fight against childhood hunger and the negative effects it has on a child’s best chances in life.

The Food Effect website (TheFoodEffect.org) makes it easy for people to give money or time to the food bank in their area and to share the immediacy of the issue within their social network.

As a statewide coalition comes together, members of The Food Effect will communicate with anyone who can help, including relevant organizations’ memberships, congregants, students, professionals, hourly workers, members of Congress, state legislators and the media.

Hunger is a problem we cannot tolerate. Fortunately, it is solvable. Help us by joining the Food Effect Campaign and ensuring that no child goes hungry in North Carolina.

Walter Dalton is North Carolina’s lieutenant governor.

Read more: The Herald-Sun – One in seven go hungry in North Carolina

MANNA FoodBank is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. | design © 2014 lucid crew