KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — Smithfield Foods and the Food Research and Action Center held an event at a Smithfield’s facility in Kinston Tuesday to launch their Rally Against Rural Hunger Initiative.
The initiative’s aim is to raise awareness about rural hunger in North Carolina and the strategies that exist to solve it.
“If we can’t get fed, then we can’t improve our capacity to do anything else,” said Alexandra Ashbrook with the Food Research and Action Center. “It’s the first thing that has to take place for us to reach our full potential.”
The initiative has an emphasis on children left without food during summer break.
“For too many households it’s a time of financial stress and many kids don’t have the food they need to come back to school ready the next year,” Ashbrook said.
Food insecurity is often thought of as an urban problem, but research shows even though food is produced in the Tar Heel state it doesn’t mean everyone is fed and full.
“People just need to be aware that every time they sit down and have a good meal, there are people out there that don’t have that opportunity,” said Steve Troxler, N.C. Agriculture commissioner.
Smithfield Foods’ Dennis Pittman said it is what their business is alla bout.
“People ask us often, ‘Why does Smithfield do this?'” said Pittman. “Well, we’re a food company. We feed people. That’s what we do.”
Ashbrook said there is much more to be done.
“They can’t do it alone,” said Ashbrook. “They need churches and rec centers and libraries to be offering free summer meals in places not only where kids can get nutrition but where they’re learning opportunities for children as well.”
North Carolina is home to the second largest rural population in the country, 17 percent of all households in the state cannot afford to buy enough food for themselves or their family.