Food Bank expects food insecurity to remain high in 2021

Updated: Jan. 3, 2021 at 1:42 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Food insecurity has impacted millions of Americans, like nobody thought it would in 2020. People who never needed help were waiting in lines at food banks.

“In the beginning of covid-19 we were not prepared for the increase in volumes of the number of people we were seeing,” said Beth Gaglione, Director of the Wilmington Branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC.

Across the nation, people who had never needed help putting food on the table, had to wait in long lines for food.

Major suppliers, like Smithfield Foods stopped producing their normal amounts, which cut back on donations.

“We went from seeing increases of 100 percent in the early months of COVID,” said Gaglione. “In the summer things settled a bit but we were still seeing close to 40 percent of people waiting in line for emergency food than we had seen last year at the same time.”

In the Cape Fear, there were no lines, but for the Wilmington branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina they distributed more than 8 million meals over the past year, to almost 100-thousand people.

Members of the National Guard came in to start helping distribute food.

While food insecurity numbers have leveled off locally, they’re still high. Gaglione feels they’ve got a much better handle on things and are ready to serve the needs of southeastern NC in the year to come.

“We’re estimating that its between 35 and 40 percent sustained increase,” said Gaglione. “And as we go into 2021, we have to be ready for that. And that means we are going to find more food to distribute, we have to sustain staffing at the food bank, we have to be prepared to put out more food than ever before.”

She says one reason we haven’t seen lines locally is because their food partners have done more going out into the community to distribute the food, instead of asking people to come to them.

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