Workgroup Supports Food Chain Supply During COVID-19 Pandemic

Raleigh

North Carolina Emergency Management and its State Emergency Response Team partners have formed a Food Supply Chain Working Group to address food production and distribution issues across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, to help ensure all North Carolinians are fed. 
 
“A critical part of staying healthy during this pandemic is having enough to eat,” said Governor Roy Cooper.  “We need to make sure the food supply chain remains strong and safe for everyone.”
 
“North Carolina is one of the nation’s largest producers of poultry and pork. If production falters, the impacts will be felt hard within our state and far beyond our borders,” said Brigadier General Allen Boyette of the North Carolina Army National Guard, who is leading the work group.  
 
The group includes members from private industry, the agricultural community, the state departments of Public Instruction, Public Safety, Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Health and Human Services and is focusing on the food chain as a whole in the state. This begins at the supply end with farmers and food producers and continues with processors, distribution centers and wholesalers. End users include health care facilities and schools, grocery stores and restaurants. 
 
Concerns include keeping work forces healthy and safe at the state’s food production facilities, keeping children who rely on school meals fed, providing for our state’s aging population and keeping shelves stocked at the state’s food banks.
 
Food banks are facing extreme demand now, with many people out of work and struggling to make ends meet.  Food banks in rural areas are a special concern, as they do not have the resources available in urban areas. 
 
On Wednesday, the North Carolina National Guard will begin providing personnel and vehicles to assist the food banks. Each food bank will receive a support package of approximately 40 personnel and 15 cargo vehicles, tailored to the needs of the food bank and those they serve. National Guard soldiers and airmen will be performing a range of tasks including warehouse and forklift operations, meal distribution, as well as food transportation and delivery to Area Agencies on Aging and school nutrition programs. 
 
“Food banks are doing great work right now to help people who need assistance,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “But demand is very high and food banks need your support.” 
 
Sprayberry is encouraging those that can to donate. Food banks say financial contributions are what they need most at this time, because the funds provide flexibility to purchase exactly what they need.  To find the website of a food bank near you and donate online, visit feedingthecarolinas.org
 

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