SALISBURY – Livingstone College has partnered with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities to provide food resources through churches and nonprofits to vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic.
North Carolina communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic will have access to $5 million in grants to help address food insecurity needs, Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday.
“As we head into winter, it is more important than ever to ensure that people have access to food and this partnership will bring North Carolinians together to support those in need,” Governor Cooper said.
“This pandemic, although unprecedented, creates a unique opportunity to form unlikely partnerships to address food insecurity in the state of North Carolina,” said Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., Livingstone College President.
Livingstone College will contract with the A.M.E. Zion Church to administer The Hurt & Hunger Initiative, supporting congregations and nonprofits who are providing meals and food distribution to vulnerable communities, with a special emphasis on children, the elderly and the homeless.
Based on the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, 48 percent of NC households reported only somewhat or no confidence they can afford food for the next four weeks. Often, existing statewide infrastructure does not reach the most vulnerable populations.
“Our goal is to reach invisible people who have been paralyzed by this pandemic,” said Dr. Anthony J. Davis, chief operating officer and senior vice president of Institutional Advancement for Livingstone College. “This is a great opportunity for a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to partner with the faith-based and nonprofit community to serve vulnerable people in vulnerable places. Unfortunately, this pandemic reminds us that there are people in this great state who are invisible, and their voices cannot be heard from the valley of despair.”
The Rev. Dr. Dwayne Walker, a member of the Livingstone College Board of Trustees and pastor of Little Rock AME Zion Church in Charlotte, facilitated the partnership between the college and the NCDHHS. He, along with the Rev. Dr. Sheldon Shipman, pastor of Greenville Memorial AME Zion Church in Charlotte, and the Rev. Dr. Daran Mitchell, pastor of Trinity AME Zion Church in Greensboro, were having dialogues with the state regarding reaching vulnerable populations through faith-based groups. The trio approached Livingstone College to author the proposal for consideration.
“COVID-19 has been devastating to the world, and as a pastor, we have the heart to address these issues but we do not have the resources. It’s great to be able to see Livingstone College play a major role along with the A.M.E. Zion Church, other entities, and state government coming together to address this major challenge,” Walker said.
In addition to Livingstone, under this state program, the General Baptist State Convention will administer the Food Related Hunger Initiative to provide two meals per day (breakfast & lunch) to churches and faith-based organizations serving as daytime learning centers for students under virtual curricula and working parents. The Conservation Fund’s Resourceful Communities program will administer the Food Insecurity Wrap Around Services Initiative, which will address food insecurity for vulnerable populations by providing funding for community wrap around services such as food purchase and distribution, cold storage and transportation for food distribution.
“This opportunity highlights the importance of the needs of our community especially around food insecurity. Each family or individual that we can help feed, lifts a burden that we have seen before, during, and after COVID. We are excited to partner with community organizations and stakeholders to ensure people get the resources that they need not only to survive but to thrive,” said Cornell Wright, executive director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities.
Additional resources for those impacted by the pandemic are available through the NC Department of Health and Human Services and NC 211. Individuals and families can obtain information through the COVID-19 NC Information Hub at www.covid19.ncdhhs.gov/.
NC 211 is an information and referral service provided by United Way of North Carolina. Families and individuals can dial 2-1-1 or 1-888-892-1162 to obtain free and confidential information on health and human resources within their community.
“This is an opportunity for entities that are in the trenches to reach people who are normally unreachable,” Jenkins said. “No good strategy in reaching these vulnerable populations is off the table.”
To learn more about this initiative, contact Livingstone College at (704) 216-6044.