Martin County commissioner creates task force for food system resilience efforts

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WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the president of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners saw long lines of people waiting at food banks. He knew he needed to put together a task force of other commissioners to tackle food insecurity.

“1 in 4 children in my county is going without the sufficient food needed for a healthy lifestyle,” said Ronnie Smith.

That’s a statistic Smith is working to change. Smith is a Martin County commissioner and president of the state Association of County Commissioners. He chose food insecurity as his presidential initiative, creating the Food Resiliency Taskforce.

“What we wanted to do is find out what are some of those themes and things that are going on across the state that we could collectively bring together,” he said.

The task force is meeting with state leaders, schools, USDA and other organizations to find out how to improve our food system.

“One of the issues is transportation and one of the issues is storage,” Smith said.

The group is also looking at how other counties use their transit system to deliver food to people who are food insecure.

“Not only being able to make food available but being able to deliver it to individual homes that aren’t able to go to the grocery store, not even able to get out to go to the food banks,” he said

Smith’s goal is a statewide plan to fight hunger.

“To ensure that no child no senior no adult no resident will go to bed hungry,” said Smith.

The task force will release a data report this summer on food insecurity. The organization hopes to create a plan to fight hunger and present it to lawmakers in hopes of it being implemented statewide.

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