Statement from Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC
WINSTON-SALEM, NC (March 16, 2020) — Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC, the primary source of food for a network of more than 470 local food assistance programs (pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and meals programs for children and seniors) throughout 18 Northwest North Carolina counties is doing all it can to ensure our region’s food assistance system remains strong in the wake of COVID-19 and is calling on the community for support.
“Second Harvest Food Bank is committed, first and foremost, to the health and safety of our community, our staff, our partner agencies, our volunteers, and people facing hunger during this public health threat, and we will continue to take all steps necessary to ensure families, children, and seniors have access to the food they need, while preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said Eric Aft, CEO of Second Harvest.
Critical measures being taken by Second Harvest Food Bank include:
- Increasing the frequency of deep cleaning and sanitation beyond our already aggressive standards;
- Shifting our food distribution operations to keep as much nutritious food as possible flowing to where it is needed most;
- Ramping up the Providence Community Meals program to provide healthy meals for children and seniors in collaboration with local partners;
- Partnering and collaborating with school systems, local partners, and supporters to build real-time solutions to reach children with the nutritious meals that are vital to their health and well-being; and
- Working with federal, state, and local officials to remove barriers to food access and reach people facing hunger, wherever they may be.
Thousands upon thousands of families rely on the Second Harvest network each year—and in times of crisis, the need only grows as many of the support mechanisms they usually rely on are put on hold. School schedules are disrupted, and traditional youth program schedules are altered or placed on hold, creating a potential gap in meals for countless families. Seniors, people with chronic conditions, and those with compromised immune systems face high risks in public spaces, forcing many to remain home.
“We deeply appreciate the work already being done by area school systems and governments to assist many children with their nutritional needs, and our partnerships with them will ensure as many kids as possible, as well our most vulnerable families, can gain access to food,” Aft said.
Strong community support will be needed and that help, says Aft, can be in the form of financial gifts to Second Harvest’s recently launched Virtual Community Response campaign at SecondHarvestNWNC.org or through signing up for individual volunteer spots. The food bank is limiting the size of volunteer shifts, but there is still a great need for volunteers to help keep food moving through the organization and out to people who need it. Community members can also help simply by letting people know that food remains available to all whom may face challenges at this time.
“It’s time like these that our commitment to coming together to take care of one another is most visible and, for those most at risk, letting them know we are here for them is crucial,” said Aft. “These are certainly unprecedented times, but Second Harvest and our community has stepped up many times before, and we’ve never shied away from taking action and doing all we can.”
About Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC
At Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC, we believe that everyone deserves to eat and that all communities can be healthy and hunger-free. We address both the immediate food assistance needs of families as well as the causes of poverty and food insecurity. We are the primary source for food for a network of more than 460 local food assistance programs (pantries, community kitchens, shelters, and meals programs for children and seniors) serving communities throughout 18 Northwest North Carolina Counties. We operate Providence Culinary Training and two non-profit restaurants. Every day, we strive to address the critical connections between hunger and health, with a focus on alleviating childhood hunger, providing impactful nutrition education, advocating for policies that strengthen families, and collaborating with others to build locally relevant solutions to hunger and poverty. We are a proud member of Feeding the Carolinas and of Feeding America. Learn more about our work and get involved at SecondHarvestNWNC.org.