This week, Ronnie Smith, the president of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) released the final report by the Resilience Task Force – a task force appointed to help counties across the state come up with local strategies to tackle food insecurity.
The report is meant to serve as a helpful resource for North Carolina counties and provide solutions.
The statewide effort was led by Co-Chairs Sue Hinman, a Granville County commissioner and James West, a Wake County commissioner.
Smith, who’s the chair of the Martin County Board of Commissioners in addition to being the current NCACC president, stated in a press release that he hopes the extensive research can provide a guide to counties attempting to address the problem of hunger.
“When the pandemic struck, and I saw cars lining up for food assistance, I was determined to help our counties navigate the worsening food crisis. Over the last eight months, my Resilience Task Force brought together subject matter experts across the entire food system in North Carolina to develop strategies, so no child or adult in our state goes to bed hungry. I hope all our counties find utility in our report and that it can help guide local plans to improve reliable access to quality, affordable food.”
The report explores three main strategies that North Carolina counties can use to enhance their local response to food insecurity. Those are (1) expanding collaborative partnerships (2) addressing transportation needs and (3) leveraging county assets through cold storage and shared facility use.
One strategy, for instance, shows how some counties have “reimagined transit assets” as a way to get those who need help to available food banks – or even ways to use the transit system to help deliver food. Another strategy that’s worked well in one county is using cold storage lockers at school facilities to store food for food distribution efforts.
Also, the report helps county government leaders know what state, federal and private programs may be available to bolster food security in their county.
The report offers data, resources, strategies and funding opportunities – and it also provides legislative recommendations for state and federal policymakers meant to strengthen the food system in the state.
So far, nearly a quarter of North Carolina counties have approved resolutions supporting the Food Resilience Initiative and have committed to exploring ways to strengthen food security in their communities. It’s not known whether Guilford County will pass a similar resolution.
The Resilience Task Force report is the culmination of eight months of work by the group that worked from October 2020 to May 2021 – to explore how counties can “deepen relationships with regional and local food banks, improve efforts to transport food into homes, and strengthen local food sources.”
The Task Force examined the state’s food system “holistically,” looking at everything from food production and distribution, to existing emergency feeding programs, to local efforts to address food insecurity throughout the state.