Going hungry

Published 9:37 am Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The holidays are a joyous time for most, but they are often a time when the needs of others are highlighted.

This week as many families make plans for a Thanksgiving meal, according to new statistics from the U.S Department of Agriculture, 17.4 million Americans are struggling to feed their families.

It’s a number that has food shelters across the country and North Carolina food banks, like the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, scrambling to distribute food to those who need it.

The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina serves 34 counties in central and eastern portions of the state and is affiliated with the Food Bank of the Albemarle which serves 15 counties in northeastern North Carolina, including Hertford, Northampton, Bertie and Gates.

According to Christy Simmons, Manager of Public Relations, in the 34 counties served by the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, there are now 545,000 individuals at risk of hunger. This is an increase of 60,000 individuals or 13% over this time last year.

Over a third (183,000) of those who are living at or below the poverty line in the service area are children.

Simmons said a major reason for the increase in need is the economic recession as 11 of the 34 counties they serve have double digit unemployment rates.

Simmons said during this time of year, many people do take the time to give to food banks with 50 percent of donations coming during the holidays.

“The need is continuing year round not only at our food banks, but all food banks across the area,” she said.

Simmons encouraged the public to donate to local food banks in the area. She added 97 cents of a dollar donated goes directly to food and food programs.

“As we enter into the holiday season and have the eyes and ears of the community during this giving season, your donations are as critical as ever,” she said. “We can take $1 and feed four people. The change in your cup holder could feed a family of four.”