Did you know nearly 49 million Americans don’t get enough nutritious food?According to www.feedingamerica.org, North Carolina is among 10 states with food-insecurity rates higher than the national average. Food insecurity means an individual may at times lack access to enough food to sustain an active, healthy lifestyle. Our state has 1,649,070 food-insecure people and 29,910 of those are living right here in Robeson County. Families and individuals sometimes sacrifice nutritious food in order to pay medical bills, housing, or other unexpected costs. You don’t have to look very far in Robeson County to know that hunger is an issue for many of our citizens, including children.
So, what’s the problem with being a little hungry? Children are affected in many ways. Hunger can cause them to experience irritability and fatigue, making it more difficult for them to concentrate and perform at their best in school. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are more than 17 million children in the United States who live in food-insecure families. For those children, the food they receive at school may be their only food for the day. You may have also heard that Communities in Schools of Robeson County are providing weekend single-serving meals through a program called BakPak Pals. Around 90 children in the Lumberton area and about 24 in the Red Springs area are receiving bags of food each weekend.
Entire families are also affected. A healthy diet is key in order for older adults to live independently and remain active in the community. Another way to help food-insecure families is through Food and Nutrition Services or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Many adults who would qualify for Food and Nutrition Services don’t apply because they don’t have the needed information. Others misunderstand Food and Nutrition Services benefits because they have incorrect or outdated information. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Robeson County is now presenting a “More in My Basket” program to educate interested adults about the benefits of these programs. The purpose of the “More in My Basket” session is to ensure that participants have correct, current information about these benefits.
“More in My Basket” is presented by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension and supported by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The presentation shows how extra grocery dollars, at any dollar amount, can help individuals purchase more and healthier foods, freeing up budgeted grocery dollars for other expenses. The presentation shows how Food and Nutrition Services and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can make a positive difference to a household’s grocery budget and diet. Participants see how a few extra food dollars — as little as $4 a week — can have a huge impact on their food purchases. The presentation also covers changes to qualifications, use of the Electronic Benefit Transfer card, and what can be purchased using these benefits. Participants learn that even though they may not have qualified in the past, recent changes may now help them qualify. They also learn how to apply for these benefits. If they do not qualify, they can also find out why. Knowing why can help an individual know when to apply in the future if their situation changes. The typical presentation is 30 to 45 minutes.
Do you know of a group that would benefit from a “More in My Basket” presentation, or of a community event where a “More in My Basket” booth might make a difference? For information, contact me or Christy Strickland at 910-671-3276, or by e-mail at Janice_Fields@ncsu.edu or Christy_Strickland@ncsu.edu or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu.
Janie Fields is a Consumer Science agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center.