The prevalence of household food insecurity in North Carolina increased from 14.8 percent in 2007-09 to 17 percent in 2010-12, according to the Food Research and Action Center. And, as reported in the Winston-Salem Journal in 2011, the Center ranked the greater Winston-Salem area as the worst metro area in the United States in having families with children that had a hard time putting food on the table.
Nearly 35 percent of households with children in the Winston-Salem metropolitan statistical area said “yes” in a 2010 study when asked whether there were times during the course of a year when they did not have enough money to buy food. Locally, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina (a member of the Feeding America network) works in 18 counties with 400 partner agencies (60 in Forsyth County) to acquire and distribute food to those in need.
According to Second Harvest Food Bank’s website, from 2000-2007, national food insecurity numbers remained fairly steady, ranging between 34 and 36 million people. In 2008, national food insecurity numbers leapt to 49 million individuals and has hovered around 50 million for the past four years, based on USDA numbers released in September 2013.
Local funders—the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the Winston-Salem Foundation and the United Way of Forsyth County—receive numerous proposals from Forsyth County organizations providing emergency food services. In an effort to better understand these requests and build momentum for a comprehensive approach to addressing hunger in Forsyth County, the three organizations, along with Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina and Forsyth Futures, convened a Community Hunger Response Conversation on March 26, 2014. Representatives from the food bank and emergency food assistance providers came together for the meeting.
Subsequently, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust engaged Marty Edwards to identify four to five food banks in North Carolina and five outside the state that are considered leaders in food distribution. The purpose of the study was to document developing trends and best practices in food distribution beyond this region.