Aid earmarked for statewide Food Banks

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Governor Pat McCrory approved releasing $750,000 from state funds on Oct. 14 for the seven regional food banks that are part of the North Carolina Association of Feeding America’s Food Banks. This early allocation of funds will help food banks stock up in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the North Carolina Department of Justice had identified $2 million in consumer restitution funds that will go the Food Bank of Eastern and Central NC, which will act as an umbrella group for food pantries throughout the state. The $2 million comes from food and pharmaceutical consumer settlements achieved by NC Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office.

Cooper said the money comes at a time when the state’s food banks are working harder than ever to help needy families.  Approximately one in five North Carolinians lack access to enough food to eat, including more than one in four children under the age of five.

“Food banks are a lifeline for many people in our state, and they need our support,” Cooper said. “We’re investing in our food banks to help struggling families and encourage others to get involved by donating or volunteering in their local communities.”

Joining the governor at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Charlotte for the announcement were Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos, State Budget Director Art Pope and Frank Perry, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety.

The governor released the funds from a state appropriation to help the food banks and pantries handle the extra demand created, in part, from the partial federal government shutdown.

“It’s time for the president and Congress to remember who they work for. The American people pay taxes 365 days a year and have the right to expect the federal government to be fully operational every day of the year,” Governor McCrory said. “Federal services are not political chess pieces. Real people are being impacted in very real ways. The political brinkmanship must end.”

Secretary Wos joined the governor in calling on Washington to resolve the disagreements that have paralyzed portions of the federal government.

“This is heartbreaking. My top concern is that, as the shutdown lingers, there will be hardship for those who depend on these services,” Wos said. “The situation remains very fluid, but I am committed to doing everything in my power to minimize the impact on our most vulnerable citizens. I urge federal officials to fulfill their responsibilities.”

Last week, the partial federal shutdown forced a two-day suspension of issuing new vouchers for the Women Infants and Children (WIC) food and nutrition program. During the suspension, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of State Budget and Management identified alternative funding sources to keep the program running through October.

In addition to WIC, Wos said a prolonged federal shutdown could affect November Work First Family Assistance. The Work First program provides support to more than 20,000 working parents and caregivers in North Carolina.

Federal child care subsidy funds are also in danger of drying up. Up to 72,000 North Carolina children could be affected if that program is halted. As of Friday, at least 23 counties had already suspended payments for all or a portion of child care.

In 2012, the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks and its affiliated soup kitchens, child care facilities and senior meal programs distributed almost 127 million pounds of nutritious food to North Carolinians in need. Approximately 170,200 different people in North Carolina receive emergency food assistance in any given week.