Less food, more hungry people coming to N.C. food banks

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C.(WNCN) – The nation’s poverty rate is reaching close to 12 percent. Many of the people behind that figure are now turning to local food banks.

However, it will become more difficult for food banks to keep with people seeking help in the coming weeks.

Food and PPE handout in Robersonville to help during pandemic

On Thursday, boxes of food were loaded into cars belonging to volunteers and take to low-income, local seniors.

“They’ve not got access to transportation. We’re utilizing volunteers to take that product straight to their homes,” said Peter Werbicki, president and CEO of the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina.

The food bank fed close to 40-percent more people this year.

“This pandemic has really exposed how many people are living close to the edge,” said Werbicki.

Monetary donations, like the one they received from Wells Fargo this week, are more crucial than ever.

Federal programs in conjunction with the USDA were bringing food into the facility in bulk. It helped ease the pressure of increased needs in the community.

“I’m not sure what we would have done. It would have just been more people struggling with food insecurity,” said Charlie Hale, Vice-President of Operations & Programs.

Source: Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina

Those federal programs are coming to an end soon. Food banks expects to lose half of the food they typically get from the USDA in 2021. It means they have to purchase more food on their own.

“We are buying more food than we’ve ever bought in the history of the food bank. Food costs a lot and that’s why donations to the food bank are so important,” Hale said.

This all comes as the need is expected to go up 60-percent next year.

“We work every day to fill that gap and now with this massive cliff coming from these federal programs- it will just make the gap significantly more,” Hale said.

Now all they can do is wait and hope to be included in a COVID-19 relief bill or for more food from the USDA.

Stimulus talks

People are also waiting on that COVID-19 relief bill in hopes that there could be a stimulus checks included. The AP reported continued to debate a $1 trillion relief package as of Thursday night. Lawmakers were expected to work through the weekend. The central points of the relief bill included a $300-per-week bonus federal jobless benefit and renewal of soon-to-expire state benefits. It also includes $600 direct payments to individuals and money for people needing food aid.

In August, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said payments could be issued as quickly as one week after Congressional approval.

“I can have them out immediately. So, if I could get that passed tomorrow, I could start printing them the following week. We did it the first time. I can get out 50 million payments really quickly, a lot if it into people’s direct accounts.”


Here’s how long it look last time to get checks:

  • March 25 — CARES Act passes Senate
  • March 27 — CARES Act passes House
  • March 27 — President signs CARES Act
  • April 10-11 — IRS direct deposits started arriving
  • April 18 — Paper checks mailing began

Getting Help

The Food Bank works with several partner agencies to provide assistance to those in need of food.

Click here to find help with food or shelter in your area.

Click here to see opportunities for grab-and-go lunches for kids and teens.

Learn more about getting help with other benefits here.

Wake County’s COVID-19 information page has additional resources for those in need of help.

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