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Inflation is increasing demand at food banks throughout North Carolina

Families in central and eastern North Carolina are seeking more assistance in larger numbers from food pantries and soup kitchens because of inflated food prices.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is a hub that partners with 800 soup kitchens and pantries across the cities of Raleigh, Durham, Wilmington, Greenville, and New Bern.

“Our network of partner agencies have seen about a 39% increase in folks visiting over pre-pandemic levels. We know it’s due to the impact of COVID-19. More recently, in the last three months we've seen that number even spike a little bit more. So up closer to the 45% level. It’s because of rising grocery costs, gas prices and impacting budgets for families,” said Jessica Slider-Whichard, who is the Vice President of Communications and Public Policy for the food bank.

There are 92,970 people in the Durham area that the food bank services that are facing hunger. This area covers six counties. In the Raleigh area that covers 10 counties, 248,430 are facing hunger, according to The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

Inflation is also affecting the food bank itself.

“It has become more of a challenge for us,” said Slider-Whicard. “Supply chain issues are still causing issues for us in terms of getting that food in consistently on a regular basis, not knowing how long it will take or what will be available, we're still seeing the impact of that.”

The food bank now relies heavily on more donated products which also expands the funds coming from individual donors. Most of the funding comes from individual donors and programs that are reimbursable by the state and federal government.

As the summer months roll in, this 90-day period is the toughest for families, Slider-Whichard noted. The food bank offers a program called Kids Summer Meals. It’s extended to the school systems and the food bank's partners.

Slider-Whichard says the organization will continue to increase expansion for new partners. They have open houses regularly.

Copyright 2022 North Carolina Public Radio. To see more, visit North Carolina Public Radio.

Sharryse Piggott