Congresswoman Kathy Manning Visits Second Harvest
Working to ensure that all citizens can access the healthy food they to live their best lives takes strong, focused, cross-sector partnerships. Consider this: For every meal a Food Bank like ours provides, the federal nutrition program called SNAP, for short, (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and known more widely as Food Stamps, provides nine.
Let’s say that again: For every 1 meal a regional food bank like Second Harvest provides, SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) provides 9. No one organization alone can fully address the very significant challenges and consequences of food insecurity; and that includes the federal government. That’s is why we always welcome the opportunity to meet with our elected officials and, this week, Second Harvest Food Bank CEO Eric Aft and Food Bank team members appreciated the opportunity to welcome United States Congresswoman Kathy Manning to our facilities.
The Congresswoman, who represents North Carolina’s 6th District encompassing all of Guilford County and a portion of Forsyth County, is an ardent advocate for the well-being of North Carolina families. She and District Director Salima Thomas joined us for a tour of our operations and, more importantly, to hear from Second Harvest leaders about the challenges and opportunities facing Second Harvest, our network partners, and the people we serve together across 18 North Carolina counties.
For some time now, we have begun tours of our humble home outside on the front porch of Second Harvest’s main warehouse. This affords us the opportunity to point out our Volunteer Center and additional storage facilities located across the street and, moreover, to quickly highlight some of the key opportunities for our food bank to “do more and do better” as our organization enters the home stretch of our Hunger for Change Capital Campaign. Second Harvest will host a virtual kickoff event on May 12 at 2:30 p.m. announcing the launch of the public phase of the campaign, so mark your calendar and tune in here to hear more about what our new food bank home will mean for the people and communities we serve.
Entering Second Harvest’s main warehouse, Congresswoman Manning was interested in hearing more about the impact of the pandemic in the lives of area residents and on our work. Eric explained that while there has been some decline in the initial, very significant spikes in requests for food assistance seen in the early days of COVID-19, we are, nonetheless, now at a new normal of heightened need.
“Food insecurity was high and persistent before the pandemic hit; now it is worsened, especially among families who were already struggling economically,” Eric said. “We expect this heightened need will continue for some time as the economy recovers. Of significant concern, and something we are preparing for now, is the end of moratoriums on evictions and utility cut-offs that could result in many lower-income families not having all of the resources they need for these basic needs, which may, in turn, lead to greater need for food assistance.”
Lisa Richardson, Second Harvest’s VP of Operations, took the opportunity to thank Congresswoman Manning for her role in helping to bring relief to local families and businesses, including through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a federal program that provides a significant source of healthy food products for Feeding America Food Banks, while at the same time providing support for our nation’s farmers. As well, this week Congresswoman Manning announced additional COVID-19 relief for small businesses and the opening of a multi-billion-dollar restaurant relief grant program.
Chef Jeff Bacon, who serves as VP and Executive Director of Providence, overseeing a 13-week culinary training program, the organization’s prepared meals programs serving children and seniors, and other related social enterprises, spoke to the challenges facing the food service and hospitality industries.
“It’s continuing to be tough to find experienced workers to fill the available spots,” said Chef Jeff. “This bodes well for the opportunities that await our graduates, but nonetheless, is no small matter for the area’s restaurant community.”
Congresswoman Manning noted that she has been hearing a similar message at meetings across the District. “We’re hearing concerns from some in the business community about federal supports and their impact on the pool of candidates. I think it’s important for us all to understand that people’s circumstances are varied. A mom might be concerned about bringing illness home to an aged parent or health-compromised family member. Many people are taking this time as an opportunity to retool themselves, seeking new opportunities to build greater stability. And for lots of parents, school schedules are a huge factor in being able to return to work.”
Most things, important things, are never cut and dry, but rather layered and nuanced. It’s something all of us at Second Harvest are reminded of almost daily, as we strive to confront stereotypes with facts. We appreciate the Congresswoman Manning and Ms. Thomas investing their time to get to know our mission and work better. You can read the brief information pertaining to our legislative priorities provided to Congresswoman Manning here.