Editor’s Note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published Monday online and printed on Tuesday. We will try to answer your questions about goods or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Send an email to [email protected].
SALISBURY – Long lines at food banks have become a common image on the internet, cable news and newspapers throughout the United States, wrote in one of the questioners. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused food insecurity because many people’s incomes are weak or unavailable because of the economic effects of the closure.
So how do local people and non-profit organizations deal with food insecurity locally? Do they need help from the community?
“One thing that really surprised me during our stay at home order was that we did not experience a large increase in demand for food services,” said Karl Dahlin, who manages the Salvation Army in Salisbury with his wife, Janice Dahlin. “I’m really going to jump in response to COVID-19. However, we see that most requests remain. “
Dahlin has no definitive answer why that happened.
He thinks it could be partly because a coronavirus stimulus check is provided as part of an economic stimulus package authorized by Congress. That money means that many people have resources for food that they might not have.
There is also some protection against power outages and evictions. So, the extra money will be available to buy food, he said. If the lease is only delayed, it may be due in the near future because the protection is over, he said.
If Dahlin is right, then agents and non-profit organizations like Salvation Army, which also provides emergency rents and utility assistance, will be faced with many needs at once.
“I think improvements will come, but it hasn’t happened yet,” echoes Kristine Wiles, manager of food operations at Rowan Helping Ministries.
Government assistance is another way to overcome food insecurity apart from food banks and non-profit organizations. Some changes in the programs might also reduce food insecurity and prevent long lines at the food bank, Wiles speculated.
Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), colloquially called food stamps, are part of that. This federal program provides low-income families if their gross income falls below a certain threshold depending on the number of family members.
When the pandemic first began, the Social Services Department saw more FNS applications, said Sheila Holshouser, administrator of the Revenue Maintenance Program at Rowan’s Social Services Department. Other new programs have also been introduced to overcome the effects of coronavirus.
In 44 states, including North Carolina, those who are eligible for unemployment receive an additional $ 600 each week as part of a coronavirus aid package approved in Congress. It is scheduled to last until the end of July. Usually, the maximum weekly payment is $ 350 for weekly unemployment benefits in North Carolina.
The program might help return the FNS application to its normal place, Holshouser said.
North Carolina also provides some assistance for school-age children who qualify for a free lunch program by providing assistance through the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program. The program does not require applications and the benefits, which will be used for food, will be provided in two installments.
Locally, various schools also provide food during the week may also have helped with the problem of food insecurity, said Wiles.
However, the Department of Social Services has seen an increase in unemployment applications because unemployment has ballooned nationally, Holshouser said.
Therefore, food pantry still helps combat food insecurity, although some changes have been made due to the nature of the pandemic.
Hope Oliphant is executive director of Main Street Marketplace in China Grove. The organization has seen a slight increase in food demand, Oliphant said. They recently reached their peak when serving around 125 in one day.
Although organizations usually operate more like shopping markets, now they are distributing boxes instead. Usually, there is an interview process, but now the organization takes people when they come.
“If you say you need food, we will give you food,” Oliphant said.
Main Street Market also has a process of leaving food for three days before distributing it to ensure that it is not contaminated.
The Rowan Regional Salvation Army has also made challenges about the way the food pantry operates during COVID-19.
The food bank is now a driving force, with clients encouraged to remain in their cars while the Salvation Army staff wearing protective equipment put food boxes into their suitcases. Anyone who walks is asked to keep a distance of six feet from each other, Dahlin said.
In Rowan Helping Ministries, the building is still closed to facilitate social distance, Wiles said. A tent was set up outside. Someone will take basic information to see if people are eligible for assistance – such as addresses and gross income over the past thirty days – before they send people to the other side of the building. There, a volunteer will put food behind the car.
Main Street Marketplace hours are Monday and Thursday from 10am to 1pm.
Hours for food distribution in the Salisbury Salvation Army are Monday through Thursday from 10 am to noon. People are asked to schedule an appointment in advance at 704-636-6491.
Rowan Helping Ministries is open to help those who need help with food insecurity from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Some of those who don’t need to take this time to help others. Wiles said that a student at Isenberg Elementary School organized an environmental food trip that carried nearly 250 pounds of food.
Oliphant is also grateful to see people helping others.
“Very many people have donated masks and cleaning supplies,” he said.
Main Street Marketplace needs volunteers to help pack lunch boxes and provide food and donate money or food items, Oliphant said. However, they asked people over the age of 65 not to volunteer. Donations can be made on the website – marketandmeeting.org – or by mail or drop-off.
Donations to Rowan’s Safety Forces can be made online at www.SalvationArmyRowan.com or at 1-800-sal-army. Food, especially dry goods such as mac and cheese, can be donated from 1 p.m. until 3 pm Monday through Thursday using drive through, Dahlin said.
Volunteers can register to help Rowan Helping Ministries on their volunteer portal on their website, rowanhelpingministries.org. Food donations and financial donations are also welcome, said Wiles. Monetary donations can be made online, and donations for food donations are received from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 3.30pm.
“There are many different ways for people to volunteer and contribute,” Wiles said.
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