Overcoming Hunger

Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina – Wilmington Branch

Frances Weller of WECT TV was the emcee and made opening remarks. She also serves as the Honorary Campaign Chair. Here she is addressing the crowd under the tent.

The Landfall Foundation is part of the broader community working to support Cape Fear nonprofits and schools.

Enjoying healthy food is something many of us take for granted, but for more than 75,000 of our neighbors in eastern North Carolina, food insecurity is a fact of life. The Wilmington branch of the North Carolina Food Bank serves individuals in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender and Columbus counties who struggle with food insecurity, including nearly 19,000 children and over 25,000 seniors who live below the poverty line.
To boost its effectiveness, the Food Bank partners with nearly 100 agencies that provide various services to people in need of assistance, such as Wilmington’s Residential Adolescent Achievement Place (WRAAP). Food assistance is especially important for healthy physical and psychological development of children. Kay, a child who participates in WRAAP, wrote a long letter of thanks including these sobering words, “You providing food for us is amazing. Some of the time honestly, we didn’t know where we were going to get our next meal. I feel very happy that I get to write this letter.”
The Landfall Foundation recently awarded the Food Bank a capital grant of $30,000 for the purchase of a commercial refrigerator and freezer that will substantially increase its capacity to fight against hunger.
According to Beth Gaglione, branch director for the Food Bank, the refrigerator and freezer will be part of the commercial kitchen at the Food Bank’s new site on Greenfield Street. The ground-breaking in March (see photos) will yield a larger facility that will serve the community in many more ways.  The commercial kitchen will enable the Food Bank to prepare meals on-site for children’s summer feeding programs, senior programs, and other programs for feeding our community.  “We have never been in a position to produce our own food on-site,” says Gaglione.
The Food Bank also will provide cooking demonstrations to help residents learn to prepare foods that may be unfamiliar to them, like rutabagas, and also to teach new ways to prepare more familiar foods, such as cabbage. “The kitchen will be used to share new and exciting recipes and nutrition information to open a conversation about healthy cooking,” says Gaglione.  
It also will allow the Food Bank to feed people who are displaced during natural disasters, like the hurricanes that are so familiar to residents in our area.  “After Hurricane Florence came through, the county undertook an assessment of what went well and what things were lacking.  One issue they identified was a lack of infrastructure for a commercial kitchen that would be at their disposal in the event of a hurricane,” Gaglione said.  During a hurricane, the Food Bank will switch its operations to disaster feeding. The County will provide generators in advance of a storm. Thanks to the new kitchen, the Food Bank will be able to provide 5,000 meals per day. “In order to do this,” Gaglione says, “we need lots of refrigerator and freezer space, because the food will have to come to us before the storm hits.” The meals will provide sustenance for those in shelters and others who are displaced after a hurricane or other disaster.
Another exciting way the new commercial kitchen will be used is for a workforce development certificate training program for those who want to work in the food industry but face barriers that prevent them from attending other culinary programs. The training program is specifically designed for the workforce needs of our region so that participants can increase their earning potential through training.  “We look at it as the difference between a low wage and a living wage,” says Gaglione.
There are 600 low-income housing units near the Food Bank’s new site on Greenfield Street, and Gaglione expressed excitement that those residents will not only be able to access nutritious food but will be able to learn how to prepare meals that will taste good and be much better for their health. With the help of this new freezer and cooler, the Food Bank and its community partners will be able to provide 50,000 additional nutritious meals per week. “While the freezer and cooler can be seen as just a place to store produce and nutritious food, I like to look at this gift through the lens of this kitchen that is going to serve so many people in our community and touch in so many ways, and that is really special,” says Gaglione.
Notably, the Food Bank of Wilmington is both effective and efficient, with 97 cents of every dollar going directly to programs and services. To learn more, visit wilmington.foodbankcenc.org
No matter where you live in the greater Wilmington area, the Landfall Foundation is a great way to make our entire community a better place by supporting projects for nonprofits and schools. The all-volunteer Foundation has contributed $6 million with 1,123 grants since 1995, with 97% of contributions flowing directly to agencies.

To volunteer or make a donation to the Landfall Foundation, visit www.LandfallFoundaton.org.