Food is more than fuel for the body; it is powerful preventative medicine. And right now, it is medicine in short supply across Western North Carolina.
In April, MANNA served 151,000 neighbors – an alarming 12% increase over the prior month’s total, and a it’s trend that we anticipate will continue as costs of living remain high and critical benefits are cut from the people who need them most.
Though the challenge of meeting this need is daunting, we continue to work collectively with our network of partners and supporters to ensure that neighbors have the food they need today, tomorrow, and beyond.
Our region already faced increased financial distress due to a socioeconomic “perfect storm”: sky-high housing costs combined with low wages and rising living costs, such as food and transportation. These factors place 1 in 6 people under significant financial strain and into food insecurity. At that time, MANNA and our network were serving an average of 65,000 people each month. In 2020, the pandemic exacerbated this strain, sending thousands more households into crisis and to our partner network’s doors for emergency food support – more than 109,000 people each month.
Another complication arose when the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ended on May 11. This will impact the Medicaid, SNAP, and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits some neighbors rely on. This unique set of challenges means that MANNA is serving more neighbors than ever before: over 151,000 people accessing food-in-hand support in April 2023.
Throughout 2022, as costs of living climbed quickly and pandemic-era initiatives lapsed, we saw another round of increase in people needing food: more than 125,000 people each month. Then another major blow came in March 2023, when emergency allotments for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ended, significantly increasing the financial strain that low-income families already faced. Without these allotments, many households—particularly those with children and seniors—are struggling right now to afford the basic groceries they need to survive.
MISSION IN ACTION
As we continue to stretch our resources and work with our partners to meet the expanding need for food, there are steps you can take to help your neighbors. Here are just a few simple ways to make an impact:
➡ If you know someone who needs food, you can be a valuable resource by sharing MANNA’s Food Helpline number: 1-800-820-1109.
➡ Register to participate in Outpace Hunger 2023.
➡ Make a monetary or food donation.
➡ Host a food drive.
➡ Contact local legislators to talk about the issues our region faces. Learn ways you can advocate for neighbors and join our Advocacy News and Alerts email list.