GREENSBORO, N.C. — Food banks and pantries were pushed to their limits during the pandemic. They were forced to find ways to provide for their communities and a large percentage of their visitors who had never been in need.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina made several moves during the pandemic, including opening a new satellite facility in Greensboro.
What You Need to Know
Food banks and pantries served record numbers of visitors during the pandemic
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina opened a satellite facility in Greensboro to help operations
Leaders are expecting another spike in visitors this summer and fall as government assistance drops off
Since the organization opened the facility in Greensboro in April, it’s been able to serve about 50 pantries and organizations out of the new location. One of those is Lot 2540, out of Rockingham County, directed by Marty Roberts.
“They want to reach into communities and impact them and provide opportunities for people to be healthier,” Roberts said. “And that lines right up with what we’re doing — we want people to be healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
Lot 2540 picks up fresh food once a week, but as its operation expands, it could pick up more often. He believes the access has made a big impact on the community the organization serves.
“It’s just amazing to watch people gravitate towards fresh produce, fruits and veggies, instead of chips and carbs,” Roberts said. “So that’s one really good opportunity we’ve had to impact the community.”
Lot 2540 is only one example of pantries pivoting to help those in need during the pandemic, and in some cases with record numbers. And leaders from the top down don’t expect the need to drop off anytime soon.
“What we’re very nervous about and what kinda keeps me up at night is the issue of the ending of the moratorium on evictions as well as utility cutoffs,” said Eric Aft, the CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina. “Because when those occur, just at the beginning of August, we know that folks are going to have to figure out ways to again put food on the table as they pay those other bills.”
But the pantries are ready to serve the people that need them.
Aft says the new location in Greensboro will play a big part, allowing more organizations to come more often.
They’ve also spent well beyond their normal amount on fresh food.
“In a normal year, we would spend about $400,000 to purchase food. Last year, we spent $4 million to purchase food,” Aft said.
Aft said the organization has set aside more than a million dollars to help purchase food and emergency supplies this summer and fall, as government assistance drops off and the need could increase.