Updated: Jul 17
Food insecurity is defined as a "lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life," according to Feeding America. Food insecurity is also a spectrum. A person or household’s level of food security can range from very low, to marginal, to high, and can be temporary or long term. Ultimately, this shows us that food insecurity can look very different from person to person. When we talked to Maggie from A Place at the Table, she said that one of the misconceptions people have about food insecurity is that everyone with food insecurity looks the same, talks the same, acts the same. That’s not the case. Food insecurity can look different for everyone and it’s important to set aside biases we may have about food insecurity if we want to end it. A Place at the Table, and many of our other community partners, are working to dispel these myths. Maggie says that we have a lot more in common than we might realize, and above all, we all deserve dignity and to be seen and heard.
At our most recent Community Day, one of our directors had the chance to meet a large family that is experiencing food insecurity. She struck up a conversation with the mother and said she didn’t even notice the children in the backseat at first because they were so quiet and well behaved. The mother shared about the obstacles she has faced in trying to support six children during such hard times, and we are thankful to have the resources to help this hardworking mother and her kind family. At first glance, though, they may not look or act like the stereotypical family with food insecurity. Like Maggie said, this is why we must work on our biases and misconceptions about food insecurity. After her conversation with the mother of the family, our director played a game with the children by trying to guess each of their ages. They all talked, listened, and laughed together, and that is why we do what we do -- not just because we want to provide food and resources, but also because we want to build relationships with the people in our community. These relationships help us to understand the needs of our community, and to better serve those needs.
According to Feeding America, before the COVID-19 pandemic, “more than 35 million people faced hunger in the United States.” After the pandemic, that number is estimated to have risen to more than 42 million people. Poverty and unemployment are a few of the leading causes of food insecurity but many families experiencing food insecurity are considered to be above the poverty line.
According to the North Carolina Justice Center, almost 1.6 million people in North Carolina face food insecurity. This makes North Carolina the 10th most food insecure state in the nation. However, before the pandemic, these numbers were decreasing. In our district alone, about 102,810 people are facing food insecurity.
So what is being done to end food insecurity in our community, and how can you help? There are so many initiatives in Southeast Raleigh focused on fighting hunger and food insecurity. Ship Community Outreach hosts multiple weekly community outreaches and monthly community days where we distribute free food to community members. We also have an affordable grocery store, Galley Grocery, and other opportunities for community members to learn about nutrition in our other initiatives such as the Ship Yard weightlifting gym and nutrition classes being held at Ship of Zion Church. Our community partners and the surrounding food pantries also work to fight hunger and food insecurity in our community. The best thing community members can do to help fight food insecurity is to learn the facts, challenge our own biases and misconceptions, and volunteer with initiatives working to end food insecurity in our community.
If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity:
Weekly Community Outreaches
Every Monday, 2-3pm, Heritage Park 416 Dorothea Dr. Raleigh, NC 27601
Every Friday, 2-3pm, Ship of Zion Church 105 E Lee St. Raleigh, NC 27601
Monthly Community Day
2nd Saturday of each month, 9:30am-11:30am, Ship of Zion Church 105 E Lee St. Raleigh, NC 27601
Galley Grocery Store
402 Bragg St. Raleigh, NC 27601, Open Monday-Friday 10am-8pm
The Carolina Hunger Initiative
The Carolina Hunger Initiative has collected a number of resources to help ensure that kids in North Carolina can continue to have access to food throughout the summer. They’re listed below:
To find the meal sites nearest you, text FOOD to 877-877
Or, check out the NEW meal finder map: bit.ly/33vIhrt