Study: North Carolina 11th worst in nation for family food hardship

Published 11:06 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TBOM says community keeps local families fed

North Carolina is among the nation’s worst states when it comes to a family’s ability to put food on the table, according to a report released earlier this month by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).
The FRAC report ranked North Carolina 11th worst, with 28.5 percent of families with children saying they ran out of money to buy food at least once last year.
“We’re definitely seeing an increase just in a need through our doors for sure and our projections are already showing a continuing trend in that direction,” said Jason Eller, director of development for Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry (TBOM).
States or areas among the 15 worst were the District of Columbia, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Nevada, Arizona, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma.
Winston-Salem ranked as the nation’s worst metropolitan area in that category, while the Asheville area ranked 28th worst.
The number of families being served through Thermal Belt Ministry Outreach this year compared to last year is up 34 percent, organization officials said.
TBOM served 286 kids at the end of last school year through the organization’s Feed-A-Kid program. Last year, 57 percent of students were eligible for the state’s free and reduced lunch program as well, said TBOM Director Carol Newton.
“Food is so expensive,” Newton said. “We really are fortunate with people giving of themselves. There is a lot of support in particular for Feed-A-Kid.”
Organizations have also support TBOM and the families they assist through a variety of food drives. Newton said the local VFW came in Aug. 25 with 300 pounds of cans, while the Tryon Presbyterian Vacation Bible School also expects to meet their 5,000-pound food collection effort.
Food boxes are also scattered around the county for purchase in stores such as Bi-Lo and Dollar General. Newton said TBOM also offers regular fresh produce days monthly.
“We’re able to meet the need at this point,” Newton said. “We’re thankful that we can keep the shelves full. The community is so good to us in that way, but there is another part to this story.”
As of the end of July, TBOM saw 1,440 families – more than 3,700 people represented within those families. Out of the 1,440, the ministry has seen 149 new clients needing assistance for the year so far since January.
“The longer it takes for the economy to recover the need grows,” Eller said. “Food and hunger is still an issue…. Particularly in Polk County I think you see that quite a bit because there is not a lot of industry [where people can] go and find a job.”
He said at this time one of the greatest needs is for giving to continue through TBOM’s unrestricted fund so the organization can cover all the needs of its clients.
Eller said he wants people to understand they don’t have to donate $100 to give; they can send whatever they can and TBOM will make the money stretch.

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