21st annual NCGA Food Drive underway ahead of summertime hunger

The N.C. Feed America Food Banks reach 1.8 million North Carolinians annually and summer is a busy season

The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association donate $50

RALEIGH — Food donation bins are spread across the N.C. General Assembly until noon on Thursday, ready for donations to help N.C. families through the summer months. More than $85,000 in food gift cards and cash were donated this week by The NC Retail Merchants Association (NCRMA) and its retail members to the NC Association of Feeding America Food Banks. “Many people do not realize the critical need North Carolina’s children and their families face during summer vacation,” said Alan Briggs, Executive Director of the NC Association of Feeding America Food Banks. “For many children when summer begins, hunger begins. And regardless of our political views, we must all agree to work together to help our neighbors.”In N.C. nearly a quarter of children (24.6 percent) under 5 years old are food insecure on a regular basis, according to the N.C. Association of Feed America Food Banks. N.C.’s rate among those kids is one of the highest percentages in the nation. “Our members work with local food banks throughout the year to help combat food insecurity in a variety of ways,” said NCRMA’s President and General Counsel Andy Ellen. “It’s critical that we do whatever we can to raise awareness of this important issue facing North Carolina when nearly 1.8 million of our neighbors, or almost one in six, are experiencing food insecurity. We hope everyone will do what they can to buy extra canned goods when they grocery shop and contribute to the Food Bank.”The spring food drive at the General Assembly is an annual tradition started in 1995 to raise funds and awareness for summertime food insecurity. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and Senator Brent Jackson (R-Sampson) Senator Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) and Representative Garland Pierce (D-Scotland) were among the members on hand to draw attention to the crisis. In the press conference Berger thanked the N.C. Retail Merchants Association for their $50,000 donation to the food banks and for leading the drive. He also recognized former senator Mark Basnight for starting the drive 21 years ago. “During fiscal year 2015-16 North Carolina’s Feeding America Food Banks distributed 184 million pounds of nutritious food and other grocery products the equivalent of nearly 50 million meals and 1.6 million North Carolinians were served by the food banks,” said Berger.To donate, visit Feeding America online at: www.ncfoodbanks.org.