In a time of crisis, we are often reminded that as long as our basic human needs are being met, in the end, we will be OK.
But here is the issue - food, water, shelter and clothing are not always guarenteed. With the current crisis our world is facing, the resources that many of our most vulnerable neighbors rely on for access to food have been disrupted and compromised, making hunger a more urgent need than ever in our community.
Over the next few weeks we will be shining our #SpotlightOnCLT, presented by the Amy and Brian France Foundation, on our local nonprofit partners who are helping fill this urgent need and feeding our hungry neighbors through the COVID-19 crisis.
While one in six children in America suffers from real hunger, North Carolina is home to 479,220 hungry children alone with 45,370 of those children living in our own backyard in Mecklenburg County (Patch). And these statistics are only inflating as a result of the current crisis. Children who depend on school lunches as their main source of substance for the day are feeling the impact of the pandemic harshly and immediately.
And, of course, hunger does not discriminate by age. The week of March 21st, The Labor department figures showed that the number of unemployment claims rose to 3.3 million, beating a previous record of 695,000 claims set in October of 1982 (The Guardian). Many of these adults who are now suddenly out of work and filing for unemployment are having to decide between a roof over their head or food in their stomach. Wondering where your next meal will come from is an incredible burden to bear in already stressful times.
The GOOD news? These SHARE Charlotte partners are working hard everyday to help feed our hungry neighbors and they are not slowing down, but rather, adjusting efforts to meet this urgent and exploding need in our community. Read below to learn more about the immediate needs of these organizations who are key players in feeding Mecklenburg County during this COVID-19 crisis, and how you can support their work right now.
Second Harvest Food Bank is working to support several groups through their efforts, including families of children whose school meals will be missing during times of school closures, seniors who are being asked to remain safely at home, and individuals being affected by business closures and cancellations. In many cases these are hourly workers and any reduction in hours can cause a tremendous burden.
Volunteers are instrumental to food distribution in their 24-county service region. Their 800+ agency partners are reliant to be sure that the children, seniors, families, veterans and pets that they serve have access to healthy foods. Due to many company policies during the virus outbreak, quite a few of their regular groups have had to cancel their shifts so they are in desperate need of volunteers to help fill those shifts. More info here.
Calls for emergency food assistance have increased exponentially as more people find themselves with reduced work hours or layoffs. At the same time, many of Loaves & Fishes’ pantry volunteers fall into the high risk group and need to stay home while volunteer groups scheduled for their warehouse have had to cancel.
What they the most to respond is 1) financial donations to help purchase food and materials for emergency food boxes 2) tangible food donations (especially canned tuna, canned chicken and canned fruit) 3) volunteers who are in excellent health, aren't in a high risk group and have no symptoms or known exposure to the COVID-19 virus. More info, here.
Friendship Trays (Meals on Wheels of Charlotte-Mecklenburg) is directly impacted by the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. They are continuing to serve 120 of their most vulnerable and isolated, but have about 400 other recipients that they are unable to serve. Their limited staff is also continuing to cook, pack and deliver to the 120 individuals and also calling the other recipients weekly to make sure their situation has not changed.
Please consider making a donation to Friendship Trays so that they can continue to deliver healthy food to those who have no access to balanced meals and have no family members or other individuals to help during this time. More info, here.
The Bulb offers affordable options for those unable to access fresh, local food easily. They offer rescued food at donation based prices so as to reduce food waste and increase food access. Currently, they have three mobile distribution sites where hungry neighbors can pick-up food on Wednesdays (in the Belmont Neighborhood) and Thursdays (At Renaissance West Steam Academy and in The Barrel Room at Catawba Brewing). The Bulb's current needs include financial donations as well as tangible goods such as paper bags, plastic bags, hand sanitizer, paper towels, Lysol, and food safe sanitizer. More info here.
Each week FeedNC serves breakfast and lunch for over 500 people in its dining room, brings meals to more than 100 homebound individuals, and offers free pantry shopping for some 150 families. FeedNC relies on donations from food banks and grocers, but shortages due to the current health crisis are severely impacting its ability to operate.
FeedNC's greatest needs at this time are monetary donations as well as tangible donations of food, paper goods and household supplies. More info here.
Angels and Sparrows
Angels and Sparrows serve a nutritious meal to those facing hunger in their daily lives through programs, celebrations and experiences – transforming daily interactions into personal connections and a sense of belonging. Due to the current crisis, the number of clients they serve has increased at a time when they are no longer receiving donations from grocery stores they would ordinarily depend upon.
Their greatest need right now is financial donations as their annual fundraiser (which was planned for May and projected to raise $60K) was canceled with no opportunity to reschedule. Your gift will allow this orgnization to continue their programs that feed those in need- last year alone they served 123,000 meals! You can also donate (or shop for) items on their immediate needs list: meat, pasta, pasta sauce, broth (all flavors), rice, deli meat, bread, bleach wipes and grocery store gift cards (Walmart, Food Lion, Costco, BJ's). More info here.
Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte intends to continue offering services to as many people in need as possible. They will continue providing critical support to people as prolonged unemployment and economic losses hit already vulnerable western North Carolina communities. The agency is now gearing up to respond to what is expected to be a greater need for food from people who have lost their jobs and children who are no longer receiving school meals. Right now, financial donations to enable Catholic Charities to buy food are an effective way to help serve people in need. Make donations online at www.ccdoc.org (click on “Donate”); or by mail to: Catholic Charities, Central Processing, 1123 S. Church St., Charlotte, NC 28203.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Feeding Charlotte's largest institutional food donors have closed their doors, but in response, Feeding Charlotte has expanded their mission to also support the broader restaurant industry. They have developed partnerships with struggling caterers and restaurants to directly distribute their food to those in need. To help support the work they are doing amid this crisis, shop their Amazon wish list or make a financial donation.
While you grocery shop during this crisis, keep in mind that Mecklenburg County issues it's Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) support funds at the beginning of each month and if you are not a WIC recipient, please try to avoid items marked “WIC” as these are the only items available to low-income mothers with young children and can't be substituted under the FNS program. You can find the WIC designation beside the price of the item.
Resources for Hungry Neighbors:
- CMS is providing grab-and-go lunches Monday - Friday at designated locations from 10:30am-12:30pm. These meals are free and available for anyone 18 and younger. The district reviews the meal distribution plan weekly and communicates each week to the media and the community as changes arise.
- If you know someone struggling to find a food source in their area, you can direct them to this map provided by Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.