Food insecurity is a big problem in North Carolina, but there are a few things you and your family can do to help.
by Addie Ladner
North Carolina ranks 10th-hungriest in the country, with more than 1 million people who struggle to get enough to eat. “Over the last few months with supply chain issues, pandemic fatigue and rising gas prices, the need has been even greater,” says Kara Guido Siek, food sourcing specialist at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. Here’s how to help.
Volunteer your Time
The Food Shuttle welcomes volunteers at its farm and community gardens to help plant new crops, harvest, weed or water. But where they really need the help, says Siek, is with its Grocery Bag for Seniors program. “This is a good opportunity because you both fill the bags and deliver them, so you get to see the result of your work,” she says.
Clean Out the Pantry
Have a few spare cans of tuna or boxes of cereal on your shelves? Drop them off at the Food Shuttle or your nearest food pantry. To scale up your clean-out, organize a Porch Pickup: send a memo to your neighborhood to do the same, then collect all the donations for delivery. “We had one group collect between nearly 500 pounds of produce. It’s a good project for students needing service hours,” says Siek.
Make a Monetary Donation
Just $1.05 can provide a meal to someone in need, says Siek. Consider donating between $5 to $10 a month this summer, when the need is highest as kids are out of school, a major network for food distribution. Make a one-time or recurring donation to Food Shuttle at foodshuttle.org/donatetoday or contribute to another food pantry.
Start a Little Free Pantry
A sister project to the Little Free Library movement, a Little Free Pantry is an open box where folks can drop canned and nonperishable goods for neighbors to pick up. Visit littlefreepantry.org for tips on how to set one up in your neighborhood and register yours on the map, then let your friends know it’s open for contributions.
Share your Garden Victories
One household can only eat so much zucchini, basil and tomatoes — and the Food Shuttle is happy for produce donations. If you need incentive to dig into your garden, try Siek’s idea: or every cucumber you harvest for yourself, donate one.
Do you know what your go-to bakery, restaurant or farmers market does with their leftovers at the end of the day? Ask them — and if they aren’t already donating already, encourage them to do so. “We are always happy to facilitate those connections. If someone has food they don’t have a use for, we will try to find a way to get it,” says Siek.
Use Your Platform
Something you can do without leaving your house is to raise awareness by resharing content from the Food Shuttle, local food pantries, churches and other organizations fighting hunger. It’s also a good way to share volunteer opportunities or urgent needs as they come up. “Every little thing helps, and sometimes a reminder goes a long way,” says Siek.
This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of WALTER Magazine.