HIGHPOINT ENTERPRISE: Congresswoman rolls out drive to take on food hardship
A campaign to take on and conquer food hardship in High Point and surrounding communities will require the combined commitment of volunteers, churches, nonprofits and government, U.S. Rep. Alma Adams said Thursday in an announcing a hunger initiative.
Adams, D-12th, said she wants to promote public-private partnerships, foster dialogue between elected officials and community stakeholders and advocate for bipartisan approaches to address food insecurity.
“When we talk about hunger, party affiliations don't matter,” Adams said during a press conference at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina. “We want to find workable solutions to the food crisis.”
Adams, the first-term Democratic representative from Greensboro, rolled out the food hardship initiative in part of a warehouse at the food bank in Winston-Salem. Second Harvest serves more than 400 food assistance programs in 18 Piedmont and foothills counties.
Adams is responding to the area's unenviable ranking as worst in the nation for food hardship.
The High Point-Greensboro area now ranks first in the country among metropolitan communities for food hardship, according to a survey released in April by the Food Research and Action Center. The previous student by the center, associated with the Gallup polling organization, found that the High Point area had the second-highest level of food hardship.
Since the center began its telephone surveys of people across the country in 2008, the High Point area has ranked among the top 10 for food hardship each time. The question posed is, “Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
Adams proposed four main approaches as part of the initiative:
• Bringing together public and private organizations to develop new food markets for needy neighborhoods, as well as preserving existing grocery stores and other sources for food in communities.
• Bringing together elected and government officials with stakeholders and representatives to explore solutions and ideas.
• Promoting bipartisan legislation to encourage public-private partnerships on hunger, including the involvement of small businesses, nonprofits and local governments.
• Promoting the work of local food banks and other nonprofits that address food hardship.
Adams will seek to bring national attention to the area's plight by requesting a site visit and field hearing in the area by the House Agriculture Committee. Adams has written a letter requesting the hearing the week of Aug. 31-Sept. 4 so congressional representatives can “see first-hand the challenges facing communities with a high rate of food insecurity and hunger.”
Adams held the press conference in the cavernous warehouse of the food bank on Reed Street in southern Winston-Salem just off the interchange of U.S. 311 and N.C. 109. The press conference took place after a one-hour roundtable on hunger with Winston-Salem representatives. Adams held a similar roundtable this spring in Greensboro.
Prior to the press conference, workers and volunteers for the food bank used lifts to move pallets of supplies going to agencies across the region helping individuals and families in need.