Thursday is Food Lion Hunger Relief Day at the North Carolina State Fair – where fairgoers take four cans of Food Lion-brand food to get in free.
The food, which benefits the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, will go to nearly 900 food outlets in 34 counties, including the Catholic Parish Outreach pantry in Raleigh.
More than 9,600 people a month pick up food there, says pantry director Terry Foley.
About 2.8 million pounds of food went out of the pantry last year, and Foley says there's a constant need for food.
"It turns over so quickly because of the amount of people we serve," Foley said. "Clients that are coming to a food pantry really desperately need it for this day, for this week."
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in six families, or 14.9 percent of the U.S. population, ran short of food in 2011.
In North Carolina, an estimated 3.72 million people, or 17.1 percent of households, experienced some kind of food shortage.
Derek Greene knows all too well. He's simply trying to make it through tough times.
"Even though I'm an engineer – or I was an engineer until I got laid off – I have to support my family," he said. "It's truly a blessing to be able to come here and get the items a family needs."
In the 17-year history of the State Fair's canned food drive, it has collected more than 2 million pounds of food.
The food drive continues all day. If you can't make it out, consider making donations directly to the Food Bank.