Raleigh, N.C. — The state legislature's 20th annual food drive brought in $97,000 in cash and in-kind donations for North Carolina food banks.
The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association, the drive's main sponsor, donated $50,000 to the state's food bank network, association director Andy Ellen said. Retailers also donated an additional $7,000 cash and about $40,000 – seven tractor-trailers full – in food and personal hygiene products.
At a press conference Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore shared the podium to encourage the public to donate money and time to help fight hunger in the state.
"North Carolina's food books provide a valuable service and they deserve our support," said Berger, R-Rockingham.
"The General Assembly is trying to show we're committed to this," said Moore, R-Cleveland, calling hunger "something we have to deal with."
North Carolina has one of the nation's highest rates of hunger and food insecurity. About one in five North Carolinians experiences food insecurity at some point during an average year, including one out of four children.
Alan Briggs, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks, was on hand to accept the donations.
"Hunger is just a fundamental issue," Briggs said. "If a worker goes to work hungry, he or she is not productive. If a child goes to school hungry, he or she is not learning."
Briggs thanked lawmakers and donors on behalf of those who will benefit. Nearly 160,000 North Carolinians visit a food bank each week.
"We'll never know their names or see their faces," he said. "Thank you."