Many individuals and families living in Raleigh, NC, regularly struggle with food insecurity. As of 2014, nearly 14% (approximately 132,000) of the city’s residents were food insecure, a number that’s undoubtedly risen due to its growing population and the ongoing effects of COVID-19. According to data compiled by the USDA, Southeast Raleigh in particular is home to a disproportionate number of households that lack reliable transportation. The residents of these same households also live in food deserts, meaning they reside a significant distance from the nearest supermarket or grocery store. Through the analysis of data featured on the Wake County Social Equity Atlas, we've identified 6 low-income, high-SAP-receiving census tracts located in Southeast Raleigh, consisting of 8605 households, 18.5% (1597) of which are located in food deserts. This data, along with helpful anecdotal information shared with us by Wake County community members working to combat food insecurity, have helped us develop Neighborfood Express, a free food distribution service to help remedy the food insecurity issues of the residents in the aforementioned households - specifically the most at-risk members of the population (low-income, senior citizens, and the homeless). The organizing principle behind our program is to combat food insecurity by delivering free healthy food and supplies directly to neighborhood residents who lack both transportation and physical proximity to available food sources. Ever since launching our efforts in November 2020, we've made tremendous progress in accomplishing our goal of lifting thousands of kids and families permanently out of food insecurity. Each week, Harris and other volunteers spend time grocery shopping for dozens of underserved families. “Volunteers, particularly for Neighborfood Express, are the lifeblood of how the whole thing runs," Harris says. However, just giving families food isn’t always enough to lift people out of poverty. The program all offers extensive resources with the hope of creating a broad network of support. "So that’s accomplished by taking them the free food, as well as connecting them with the different agencies that can help them with employment, housing, giving them the free computers for their kids to bridge the digital divide, as well as any other support that we can give them," Harris says. The program’s volunteers help with those efforts as well. "They help us with picking up the books, as well as the vegetables from the farms and they also do all the routes for us when they take the food and supplies out to the families. So without them, we could not do this," Harris says. Each week, we deliver at least 2000 lbs of free, healthy groceries to the homes of 500+ unique individuals throughout East, Southeast, and Northeast Raleigh. We also deliver such essential supplies as free clothing, free furniture, free computers, and free diapers and other baby-related items to the families who need them. Most importantly, through the efforts of our dedicated social work team, we provide free support services to help meet all the needs of the kids and families we serve, including in such areas as housing, employment, addiction recovery, and education. Each week, our families get 20-25 pound bundles of free healthy groceries, containing fresh meats, non-perishables, and other healthy food items. Our families also get 5-10 pounds of fresh produce each week, including carrots, beets, cabbage, greens, kale, and other seasonal items, all provided by our gracious farm partners and The Produce Box. Thanks to our partnerships with restaurants like the wonderful Chick-fil-A at Brier Creek, we provide 50-100 pounds of free surplus food items to our families each week, including meats, salads, and other healthy prepared foods. Through our partnerships with the amazing Yellow Dog Bread Company and Bread of Life ministry, we provide dozens of loaves of free fresh bread to our families each week. Courtesy of our partnership with the wonderful Diaper Bank of North Carolina, we provide free baby and infant supplies for all the families who need them, including such items as baby wipes, diaper cream, and lip balm. Thanks to our partnership with the amazing Wake Up and Read, all school-aged children in the families we serve receive 3 free kids books each week. Through our partnership with the phenomenal Kramden Institute, we provide free computers for all school-aged children who lack them at home. Through our ever-growing Community Empowerment Coalition of partner agencies, we strive to meet every possible need the kids and families we serve may have, including housing, employment, counseling, education, and second chance resources. All the services we provide through the coalition are free of charge and handled by the dedicated members of our social work staff. For more info: https://neighborfoodexpress.org/the-coalition.
This listing was last updated Jun 23, 2022