Food or Rent: No One Should Have to Choose
Hunger in Northwest North Carolina
Unlike the vivid images of famine in third world countries, hunger plays out more subtly and privately in the lives of thousands of Northwest North Carolinians: It plays out quietly in classrooms, as children try to keep up with their lessons. It plays out in the homes of seniors, as they sacrafice meals to afford medications they need. It plays out in hushed conversations between parents, as they try to stretch stagnant paychecks to cover the growing rent, the light bill, fixing the car, and—finally and all too frequently last—food.
The Great Recession hit Northwest North Carolina hard. Many of our neighbors are still struggling to find work that pays a family-sustaining wage. Rising costs for housing and other basic expenses are literally consuming household budgets. As a result, 1 in every 6 people living in Northwest North Carolina struggles with hunger, while 1 in every 4 children goes without the essential nutrition they need to thrive. To adequately address persistently high food insecurity in our local communities and nation, we must address underlying issues of poverty and economic instability that plague our communities.
Since the economic downturn in 2008, the Second Harvest partner network has experienced a huge surge in the number of people seeking food assistance, that has yet to return to pre-recession levels (from 135,000 people each year to nearly 300,000 people, including 100,000 children). Today, with continuing strong support from the communities we serve, Second Harvest Food Bank is moving record amounts of healthy food through our network and setting the table in our communities for deeper dialogue and action to address the causes of persistent hunger.
Learn more about hunger and our work in your community here.
Watch WXII 12's Special Report on Childhood Hunger
The Silent Crisis
Feeding America, the national network of regional food banks, including Second Harvest Food Bank, leads several research studies that provide a factual basis for our hunger relief efforts. Findings from the most recent studies (provided below) demonstrate the urgent need for each of us to find ways to be part of the solution to the problem hunger in our local community.
Hunger in America 2014
Every four years, the Feeding America network conducts the nation’s most comprehensive study of hunger and the critical role of Feeding America food banks and our partner agencies in addressing this serious issue.
Hunger in America 2014 provides revealing information about the circumstances of the people asking for our help – the challenges they face and the difficult choices they are often forced to make living on extremely limited household resources. The report also provides in-depth information about the characteristics and capacity of our partner agency network.
Local Report Summaries:
Highlights Report: Online View
Highlights Report: Printable To order free copies of report, e-mail Jenny Moore.
Map the Meal Gap
In April 2017, Feeding America released its annual Map the Meal report documenting the persistent and pervasive incidence
of hunger in every city, town, county and state in our nation.
Key Map the Meal Gap Findings:
- 16.5% of the population in North Carolina is food insecure (more than 1.6 million residents). North Carolina ranks 5th worst among the states for food insecurity.
- In the 18 counties served by Second Harvest Food Bank, 15.8% of the population is food insecure (1 in every six residents). Five of our 18 counites are experiencing even higher rates of food insecurity.
- 22.8% of children living in Northwest NC are food insecure (1 in every 4 chidlren). Nationwide, 1 in every 6 children lives in a food insecure household.
- Map the Meal Gap also shows that 23% of people who are food insecure in our region are ineligible for Food and Nutrition Services (formerly Food Stamps), while 24% of food insecure children live in households with incomes that make them ineligible for federal child nutrition programs. For these families in particular, Second Harvest Food Bank's network a provides a critical source of nutritional support.
Download Food Insecurity Data for Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC's Service Area
Download North Carolina Congressional District Data
Child Food Insecurity
A body of research shows that even mild under-nutrition experienced by a young child can lead to a lifetime of learning and developmental challenges, including lower academic performance, emotional problems, and poor health.
Children’s Healthwatch, along with many other researchers, completed a report on the impacts of food insecurity and hunger on children’s health, growth, and development. This report focusinged on child hunger as a health problem, an education problem, and a workforce and job readiness problem. Suggestions for how to leverage federal and Feeding America programs to prevent child hunger are provided.
We know that children are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity, yet as a nation, we have yet to update our food system to meet the needs of this population. Working to end childhood hunger is a strategic priority for Second Havest Food Bank of Northwest NC and the nationwide Feeding America network.
In collaboration with our partner food assistance programs, schools, funding partners, and others, we provide essential nutritional support for
children across northwest NC. Learn more about our programs working to put an end to childhood hunger.
Spotlight on Senior Hunger
Seniors whose fixed incomes have not kept pace with rising prices are also increasingly at risk of hunger. For older adults,
inadequate diets can contribute to or worsen disease and delay
recovery from illnesses.
A recent report issued by Feeding America in partnership with The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger shows that in 2011,
almost one in every 12 seniors above the age of 60 in the United States was food insecure. That represents 4.8 million
seniors nationwide, which is more than double the number of food insecure seniors in 2001. You can view the 8-page
Spotlight on Senior Hunger report here.
A follow up report, Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans, documents the
and nutrition implications of food insecurity among seniors aged 60 and older. The study reveals that senior food
insecurity is associated with lower nutrient intake and an increased risk for chronic health conditions.
Teens and Food Insecurity
Feeding America and the Urban Institute partnered together on a study to explore the experiences of teens who face food insecurity. Generously supported by ConAgra Foods Foundation, this study aims to better understand the unique pressures related to food insecurity among the teen population and the coping strategies that teens use to access food for themselves and their family members. Focus group findings are presented through two companion research briefs:
Bringing Teens to the Table: A Focus on Food Insecurity in America broadly covers the ways in which teens experience food insecurity, the strategies they employ, their experiences with government and charitable feeding programs, and their ideas about improvements.
Impossible Choices: Teens and Food Insecurity in America more narrowly examines the risky behaviors in which some teens engage when resources are scarce.