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Hunger in Northwest NC

1 in 6 people across Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC’s 18-county service area struggles with hunger. The situation is even worse among children, with more than 1 in 4 children lacking access to sufficient food to meet their nutritional needs.

Since 2008, our partner agencies have reported an average increased need for food assistance of more than 100%. The number of people our network is serving has grown from 135,000 to well over 300,000, including 100,000 children. Many who are now seeking food assistance never imagined they'd have to turn for help to feed their families.

High unemployment, significant underemployment, flat wages and poverty are all contributing factors to the reality of hunger in our communities. 

The assumption is often made that people who face hunger are unemployed. The truth is that more and more working families are struggling to put food on their tables. Many earn too much to qualify for government programs, yet cannot make ends meet to provide for even the basic needs of their families. In fact, Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap report estimates that 29% of those who are food insecure in Second Harvest Food Bank’s 18-county service area are not eligible for federal nutrition programs income.

Across Northwest NC, 1 out of every 4 children lives with uncertainty over whether they will have enough to eat. In many of the 18 counties served by Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC, the situation is even worse.

Research indicates that even mild under-nutrition experienced by a young child during critical periods of growth may lead to reductions in physical growth and affect brain development, threatening a child’s natural abilities and potential.

Potential consequences or our communities and nation include higher rates of school failure, poorer returns on educational investments and weakened workforce productivity when children reach the age of employment.

In collaboration with our partner food assistance programs, schools, funding partners and others, we're turning the tables on childhood hunger in northwest NC through targeted special programs

Seniors whose fixed incomes have not kept pace with rising prices are also increasingly at risk of hunger. For older adults, inadequate diets can contribute to or exacerbate disease, quicken the advance of age-related degenerative diseases and delay recovery from illnesses.

According to Feeding America’s most recent Hunger in America study, nearly 10% of people served by Second Harvest Food Bank's partner food assistance programs are age 65 or older.

A recent issued by Feeding America in partnership with The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger shows that in 2011, almost one in every 12 seniors above the age of 60 in the United States was food insecure. That represents 4.8 million seniors nationwide, which is more than double the number of food insecure seniors in 2001. You can view the 8-page Spotlight on Senior Hunger report here.

A follow up report, Spotlight on Senior Health: Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans, documents the health and nutrition implications of food insecurity among seniors aged 60 and older. The study reveals that senior food insecurity is associated with lower nutrient intake and an increased risk for chronic health conditions.

Compared to food secure seniors, food insecure seniors are:

  • 60 percent more likely to experience depression
  • 53 percent more likely to report a heart attack
  • 52 percent more likely to develop asthma
  • 40 percent more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure

In addition, Spotlight on Senior Health highlights that the senior population is particularly vulnerable to the negative health and nutrition implications of food insecurity compared to other adult age groups.

Map the Meal Gap

Hunger In America

Be Part of the Solution
Together, we can solve hunger.



Map the Meal Gap
In 2014, Feeding America released an updated Map the Meal report documenting the persistent and pervasive incidence of hunger in every city, town, county and state in our nation. By analyzing household income levels, the study reveals that many who are food insecure are ineligible for various government programs, including Food and Nutrition Services (formerly Food Stamps) and other federal nutrition programs, including free and reduced priced school meals. For these families in particular, Second Harvest Food Banks and its network of partner agencies provide a critical source of much-needed food assistance.

Area number of people who are food insecure percentage of the population that is food insecure percentage of food insecure people who do NOT qualify for SNAP/FNS percentage of children who are food insecure Meal Gap
North Carolina
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC Service Area
Alamance County
25,800 17.1% 28% 27.0%                4,518,500
Alexander County
5,880 15.9% 25% 29.1%                1,029,800
Alleghany County
1,810 16.4% 20% 31.8%                    317,000
Ashe County
4,410 16.3% 21% 29.9%                    772,400
Caldwell County
14,180 17.2% 24% 29.4%                2,483,400
Caswell County
4,550 19.3% 24% 27.7%                    796,900
Davidson County
25,900 15.9% 32% 26.8%                4,536,000
Davie County
5,520 13.4% 37% 24.8%                    966,800
Forsyth County
62,590 17.8% 31% 25.0%              10,961,800
Guilford County
94,520 19.3% 31% 23.4%              16,553,900
Iredell County
24,550 15.4% 36% 24.4%                4,299,600
Randolph County
21,750 15.4% 24% 28.0%                3,809,200
Rockingham County
16,860 18.1% 24% 27.3%                2,952,800
Stokes County
7,030 14.9% 30% 27.3%                1,231,200
Surry County
11,690 15.9% 22% 27.9%                2,047,300
Watauga County
9,730 19.0% 32% 26.1%                1,704,100
Wilkes County
12,000 17.3% 16% 31.0%                2,101,600
Yadkin County
5,540 14.5% 21% 27.9%                    970,300

Gundersen, C., E. Engelhard, A. Satoh, & E. Waxman. Map the Meal Gap 2014: Food Insecurity and Child Food Insecurity Estimates at the County Level. Feeding America, 2014. Map the Meal Gap 2014 is a detailed analysis of food insecurity for every county in the US, and the only study available that provides county–level estimates of food insecurity in the United States. This research is generously supported by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and The Nielsen Company.

Annual "meal gap" represents the following formula: Annual dollars food insecure persons report needing to meet their food needs in this area / Average cost of a meal for food secure individuals in the U.S.

Hunger in America 2010
Every four years, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC participates in a comprehensive study on the incidence and nature of hunger and food insecurity in the United States. The most recent study, released in February 2010, illustrates how the economic downturn has increased the need for food assistance nationwide, statewide and in northwest NC. 

Key Findings:

  • Second Harvest Food Bank serves approximately 256,000 different people through its partner agencies, up from 130,000 in 2006. (Today, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC serves an estimated 300,000 different people through its network.)

  • 1 in 8 people residing in Second Harvest Food Bank’s 18-county service area receives emergency food assistance from its partner agencies each year.

  • 32% of all household members served by emergency food pantries are children under age 18; nearly 10% are seniors.

  • 31% of all households have one or more adults working. 

  • 21% of adults seeking emergency food assistance have been unemployed less than 6 months; 19% of adults seeking emergency food assistance have been unemployed for 1 to 2 years.

  • Households seeking emergency food assistance report having to make choices between food and other basic necessities including utilities or heating fuel (49%); rent or mortgage (45%); transportation (43%) or medicine/medical care (42%).

Hunger in America 2010 Executive Summary

Hunger in America 2010 Newspaper Insert


Together, we can solve hunger.
Ending hunger in our communities is a responsibility shared by the public and private sectors and federal and state governments to ensure the health of our communities and nation. Our political leaders will play a vital role. So will people like you who give generously in so many ways. And so will the many businesses, foundations, faith-based organizations, civic clubs and others who donate food and money and encourage employees and members to help our food bank.

Hunger is a solvable problem. We all have a role to play. Get involved today!








3655 Reed Street I Winston-Salem, NC 27107
Phone: 336.784.5770
Fax: 336.784.7369

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