GASTONIA, N.C. — Hunger pains continue to grow across North Carolina and nationwide too as more and more people experience food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs of groceries.
A USDA report shows the cost of a supermarket trip is up 3.5% from last year and 75% higher than the 20-year average. Studies show with more people eating at home and a disruptive supply chain those are two factors that have played a part in the food price hike.
Food insecurity is hitting families in need especially hard.
“They’ll line up at midnight or before midnight just so they can be the first in line.,” Pastor Rodney Freeman with Bountiful Blessings Food Pantry said. “That just tells you the need that some of them would be willing to sleep in a car all night long just to get a box of food.”
Living Water Community Worship Center also recognized the need and in addition to their monthly food giveaways that they’ve hosted for the past 13 years. They also wanted to provide COVID-19 vaccines for members of the community too.
“It knocks out two birds with one stone with needs in the community,” Valencia Smith said.
With the help of donations from Second Harvest Food Bank, the church serves about 500 families a month—many of them are elderly. Those who receive the vaccine on Saturday along with their food can also plan to receive their second dose of the vaccine at the same site next month.
“We want to get as many shots in arms as we can and feed everybody,” Smith said.
The food giveaway and vaccines will take place Saturday, April 17 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at 408 N Firestone St Gastonia, NC 28052. To reserve your spot call 704-271-9613 by no later than 9 a.m.
Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.