GREENSBORO, N.C. — A 2021 study found food insecurity tripled across the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC increased spending by more than $3 million to keep food on the table for their communities.
Food bank CEO Eric Aft said the organization typically spent around $400,000 before the pandemic. That number jumped to $4 million in 2020. Aft said the food bank is on pace to reach that number again this year.
"We are called to meet the need that exists in the community," Aft said. "If we need to purchase the food, that's what we're going to do."
Aft said the pandemic created supply chain issues, which made it harder to get food delivered. That drove costs up because the food bank had to use alternate resources. He doesn't expect the issue to resolve for another two years.
Many food banks around the country are dealing with food shortages. Aft said Second Harvest doesn't have that issue because they did a good job planning ahead.
"We've tried to look forward, and we've done a good job," Aft said. "We made a lot of purchases much earlier. We are not facing those shortages, but it has stretched our resources in ways that are not typical. The support from the community has been critical for us to be able to make those purchases and stay on top of it."
Second Harvest Food Bank said thousands across the Triad deal with food insecurity. That's caused health issues due to poor nutrition.
People who don't eat well enough can develop obesity, heart disease and increased stress levels. Children can also struggle more in school.
The food bank said it is critical to continue meeting community needs to ensure each person gets proper nutrition. According to Second Harvest, one in six people in northwest North Carolina struggle with food insecurity. It said one in five children don't get enough food.
Ways to help
There are multiple ways to get involved and make a difference. Second Harvest Food Bank has options on its website.
The food bank said people can donate food, time or money. A one-dollar donation is enough for about seven meals.
Community members can also host their own food drive.