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NC Food Banks Feed Hearts and Minds During Holidays

MANNA FoodBank in Asheville distributed more than 4 million pounds of fresh produce in 2016. (MANNA FoodBank)
MANNA FoodBank in Asheville distributed more than 4 million pounds of fresh produce in 2016. (MANNA FoodBank)
December 21, 2016

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Fueling the belly and the soul is the goal of a growing number of food banks in North Carolina. While traditionally shelf-stable cans and prepared meals have long been thought of as the menu of choice for people in need, organizations are working to improve the food that is available.

Kara Irani, the director of marketing and communications for the MANNA FoodBank in Asheville, said when people in need are treated as any other consumer, it can improve their outlook on life.

"The psychological effects of hunger are invisible and very devastating, and when we can provide food that is fresh and beautiful like what people would find in their grocery store, not beaten up cans and old boxes of things, it makes such a huge difference," she said.

Irani added that the amount of fresh food and vegetables they distribute is increasing every year. In 2016 they distributed over four-million pounds of fresh produce, over 28 percent of their total food donations. According to the North Carolina Association of Food Banks, 160,000 different people in the state receive emergency food assistance every week.

Organizations such as MANNA always appreciate donations, and like others in the state, they will allow you to give the gift of a donation in someone's honor in lieu of a gift. Irani said while gifts of food always are appreciated, monetary donations stretch much further.

"Nine times out of 10 for us, that really is dollars," she added. "We can leverage those dollars in so many ways and that dollar for MANNA can go to purchase three meals worth of food."

Seventy-five percent of households served by food banks have been forced to choose between paying for food or paying for housing. The grocery bill for an average four-person family can be as high as a thousand dollars a month. The average take-home pay for a minimum-wage job is a little more than a thousand dollars a month.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC