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Food donation and volunteer effort in Wayne County helps more than 3,500 families facing food insecurity

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    Goldsboro, NC (WRAL) — The lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means even deeper food insecurity, especially for many rural families. A Wayne County nonprofit is helping to fill that need.

Early every Monday morning, behind the Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center near Goldsboro, hundreds of cars line up to fill up with boxes of fresh produce.

Even after three hours of waiting, Mildred Blizzard had only praise for the system. She said,”It’s just wonderful. It just melts my heart that they can do this for us.”

Blizzard and a growing number of others in the county come to fill up with a week’s worth of free food from the Three in One Family Center. The center is a partnering agency with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina as well as with the USDA Farm to Family Supplement program.

Gregory Quick, director of the Three-in-One Family Center, says they began the weekly operation two months ago. He said the word is getting out. “There were other people that came through the line that said they were just becoming aware of it,” he said.

“The need here in Wayne County is intense,” said Rep. Raymond Smith (NC-21). “We have the greatest needs across the state of North Carolina.”

On the positive side, Smith says it’s also a county made up of people who are among the most generous. “There are a lot of people who are in this line today who are not here for themselves,” he said. “They are actually here for other people who cannot come out here and stand in line.”

That was part of Patrick Hall’s motivation. He said, “This is my second time and it means a lot. I use it for my family and a few other ones that needs it that lives right by me.”

Blizzard brings a lot of the food she receives to her elderly friends who have difficulty venturing out. “And the shut-ins really, really appreciate it,” she said.

Some of the boxes loaded into each vehicle are packed with potatoes, leafy green vegetables and fruit. “And these boxes here,” said Quick, tapping the top of a tall stack of boxes, “they have a mixture of vegetables with onions, tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries.”

Quick and his wife, Cassandra, say their nonprofit reaches about 20% of Wayne County families in need. “And we would love to see those numbers get even higher,” said Quick. The goal is that no family should go hungry.

That’s what it means for another person in line for the free food. Esther Jones said simply, “It means a lot. I can feed my family.”

Gregory Quick’s efforts to fight hunger extend into helping supply food for kids’ summer meals sites. Other regular feeding projects help Hispanic families in the Wayne County Town of Dudley and even serving sites in Sampson County.

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