On June 8, 2021, Ronnie Smith, President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and Chair of the Martin County Board of Commissioners, released a report by the Resilience Task Force, which he appointed to help counties develop local strategies to tackle food insecurity. The report is intended to serve as a resource for counties to explore specific needs and opportunities in their communities. Click here to access the report and learn more about the Resilience initiative.
“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,” said Ronnie Smith, NCACC President, and Martin County Commissioner.
Led by Co-Chairs Sue Hinman, Granville County Commissioner and James West, Wake County Commissioner, the Task Force represents 12 counties across the state, which collectively represent approximately 145,000 food-insecure people. Members of the Resilience Task Force include:
- Ronnie Smith, NCACC President, Martin County Commissioner
- Sue Hinman, Task Force Co-Chair, Granville County Commissioner
- James West, Task Force Co-Chair, Wake Count Commissioner
- David Allen, Randolph County Commissioner
- Amy Brantley, Henderson County Assistant County Manager
- Pauline Campbell, Robeson County Commissioner
- Tommy Everett, Tyrrell County Commissioner
- Ann Huggins, Pitt County Commissioner
- Tammy Lee, Bertie County Commissioner
- Brenda M. Vaughn, McDowell County Commissioner
- Charlie Wallin, Watauga County Commissioner
- Frank Williams, NCACC President-Elect, Brunswick County Commissioner
The Resilience Task Force report is the culmination of eight months of work by the Task Force – 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 food system holistically, including food production and distribution, emergency feeding programs, the county role in NC Cooperative Extension offices, contributing factors that lead to food insecurity, and local efforts to address food insecurity throughout the state.
The report outlines three specific areas counties could pursue to enhance their local response to food insecurity, which include 1) expanding collaborative partnerships, 2) addressing transportation needs, and 3) leveraging county assets through cold storage and shared facility use.
The report includes specific examples of local programs in each of these three areas, along with data resources, funding opportunities, and legislative recommendations for state and federal policymakers to strengthen food system resiliency. So far, nearly a quarter of North Carolina counties have approved resolutions supporting the Food Resilience Initiative, committing to exploring ways to strengthen food security in their communities. Counties that have adopted related resolutions include:
- Alexander County
- Bertie County
- Brunswick County
- Burke County
- Durham County
- Graham County
- Granville County
- Halifax County
- Lenoir County
- Madison County
- Martin County
- Mecklenburg County
- Orange County
- Pender County
- Perquimans County
- Pitt County
- Randolph County
- Robeson County
- Transylvania County
- Tyrrell County
- Washington County
- Wake County
Before the pandemic, North Carolina had the 10th highest food insecurity rate in the nation. According to Feeding America, the leading source of information on hunger in the United States, the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to exacerbate food insecurity. The pre-pandemic rate of food insecurity in 2019 was 35 million. Feeding America projects 42 million people (1 in 8), including 13 million children (1 in 6), may experience food insecurity in 2021.
The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) is a non-partisan organization, which represents the official voice of all 100 counties on issues considered by the General Assembly, Congress, and federal and state agencies. The Association provides expertise to counties in the areas of advocacy, research, risk management and education and leadership training.