Livingstone College, state government launch program to address food insecurity

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 18, 2020

SALISBURY — North Carolina communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic will have access to $5 million in grants to help address food insecurity needs, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities is partnering with Livingstone College to execute a community-based program to provide critical resources to vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic.

“As we head into winter, it is more important than ever to ensure that people have access to food and this partnership will bring North Carolinians together to support those in need,” Cooper said.

Based on the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, 48% of N.C. households reported only somewhat or no confidence they can afford food for the next four weeks. Often, existing statewide infrastructure does not reach the most vulnerable populations.

“This pandemic although unprecedented creates a unique opportunity to form unlikely partnerships to address food insecurity in the state of North Carolina,” said Livingstone President Jimmy Jenkins.

Livingstone College will contract with its affiliate, AME Zion Church, to administer The Hurt and Hunger Initiative to support congregations and nonprofits who are providing meals to vulnerable communities, with a special emphasis on children, the elderly and the homeless.

The General Baptist State Convention will administer the Food Related Hunger Initiative to provide breakfast and lunch to churches and faith-based organizations serving as daytime learning centers for students under virtual curricula and working parents.

The Conservation Fund’s Resourceful Communities program will administer the Food Insecurity Wrap Around Services Initiative, which will address food insecurity for vulnerable populations by providing funding for community wrap around services such as food purchase and distribution, cold storage and transportation for food distribution.

“This opportunity highlights the importance of the needs of our community especially around food insecurity,” said Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Executive Director Cornell Wright. “Each family or individual that we can help feed, lifts a burden that we have seen before, during, and after COVID. We are excited to partner with community organizations and stakeholders to ensure people get the resources that they need not only to survive but to thrive.”

Livingstone College Chief Operating Officer Anthony Davis said this is a great opportunity for a Historically Black College and University to partner with the faith-based and nonprofit community to serve vulnerable people in vulnerable places.

” ‘Unfortunately,’ this pandemic reminds us that there are people in this great state that are invisible, and their voices cannot be heard from the valley of despair,” Davis said.

Livingstone Trustee and Little Rock AME Zion Church Pastor Dwayne Walker said the pandemic has been devastating to the world and pastors want to address the issues, but do not have the resources.

“It’s great to be able to see Livingstone College play a major role along with the AME Zion Church,” Walker said.

Additional resources for those impacted by the pandemic are available through the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and NC 211. Individuals and families can obtain information through the COVID-19 NC Information Hub at NC 211 is an information and referral service provided by United Way of North Carolina. Families and individuals can dial 2-1-1 or 1-888-892-1162 to obtain free and confidential information on health and human resources within their community.

To learn more about this initiative, contact Livingstone College at 704-216-6044.