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Hunger in Northwest NC

Unlike the vivid images of famine in third world countries, hunger in our communities plays out more subtly and privately.

It plays out quietly in classrooms, as children try to keep up with their lessons; it plays out unobtrusively on city buses, as mothers travel across town to reach a grocery store with adequate, affordable produce; it plays out in hushed conversations between parents, as they try to stretch stagnant paychecks to cover the growing rent, the light bill, fixing the car, and—finally and all too frequently last—food.

Importantly, while food insecurity in America has to do with quantity, it has even more to do with quality. Food is expensive, healthy food is even more so. Families on tight budgets are filling their carts with calories, not nutrients. This may partially have to do with a lack of knowledge or choice, or it may have everything to do with a parent trying to make their children’s bellies feel full in the immediate, regardless of future effects. 84% of adults served by Second Harvest state that they purchase the cheapest food they can to get quantity, even when they know this is not the healthiest option for their families.  As a result, obesity and food insecurity have a direct correlation in America, meaning that if you are looking for signs of famine as evidence of an epidemic, you will not find it here. 

Since the economic downturn, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC has seen the number of people coming to our partner agencies grow from 135,000 people to nearly 300,000 people. One-third of those we are helping are children. Many who are now seeking food assistance never imagined they'd have to turn for help to feed their families.


Watch WXII 12's Special Report on Childhood Hunger
The Silent Crisis

Feeding America, the national network of regional food banks, including Second Harvest Food Bank, leads several research studies that provide a factual basis for our hunger relief efforts. Findings from the most recent studies (provided below) demonstrate the urgent need for each of us to find ways to be part of the solution to the problem hunger in our local community.

Hunger in America 2014

Every four years, the Feeding America network conducts the nation’s most comprehensive study of hunger and the critical role of Feeding America food banks and our partner agencies in addressing this serious issue.

Hunger in America 2014 provides revealing information about the circumstances of the people asking for our help – the challenges they face and the difficult choices they are often forced to make living on extremely limited household resources. The report also provides in-depth information about the characteristics and capacity of our partner agency network.

Local Report Summaries:
Executive Summary
Highlights Report: Online View
Highlights Report: Printable To order free copies of report, e-mail Jenny Moore.
Hunger in Northwest NC One Pager


Map the Meal Gap
In April 2016, 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.

Key Map the Meal Gap Findings:

  • 17.7% of the population in North Carolina is food insecure (nearly 1.8 million people). Our states ranks 5th worst among the states for food insecurity.

  • In the 18 counties served by Second Harvest Food Bank, 16.2% of the population is food insecure (326,000 people). Many of our counties are experiencing even higher rates of food insecurity.

  • 24.1% of children living in Northwest NC are food insecure (1 in every 4 chidlren). Nationwide, 1 in every 5 children lives in a food insecure household.

  • Map the Meal Gap also reveals that 24% of people who are food insecure in our region are ineligible for Food and Nutrition Services (formerly Food Stamps), while 25% of food insecure children live in households with incomes that make them ineligible for federal child nutrition programs. For these families in particular, Second Harvest Food Banks and our network of partner programs offer a critical source of nutritional support.

Map the Meal Gap

Download County-level Food Insecurity Data for Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC's Service Area - One Pager

Child Food Insecurity
A body of research shows 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. In 2009, Children’s Healthwatch, along with many other researchers, completed a report on the impacts of food insecurity and hunger on children’s health, growth, and development. This report focusinged on child hunger as a health problem, an education problem, and a workforce and job readiness problem. Suggestions for how to leverage federal and Feeding America programs to prevent child hunger are provided.

We know that children are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity, yet as a nation, we have yet to update our food system to meet the needs of this population. Working to end childhood hunger is a strategic priority of the Feeding America network. In collaboration with our partner food assistance programs, schools, funding partners and others, we're turning the tables on childhood hunger across northwest NC through targeted special programs

Spotlight on Senior Hunger
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 worsen disease and delay recovery from illnesses.

A recent report 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.

Teens and Food Insecurity

Feeding America and  the Urban Institute partnered together on a study to explore the experiences of teens who face food insecurity. Generously supported by ConAgra Foods Foundation, this study aims to better understand the unique pressures related to food insecurity among the teen population and the coping strategies that teens use to access food for themselves and their family members. Focus group findings are presented through two companion research briefs:

Bringing Teens to the Table: A Focus on Food Insecurity in America
broadly covers the ways in which teens experience food insecurity, the strategies they employ, their experiences with government and charitable feeding programs, and their ideas about improvements.

Impossible Choices: Teens and Food Insecurity in America more narrowly examines the risky behaviors in which some teens engage when resources are scarce.









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

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