Granville County Board of Commissioners Chair Sue Hinman is part of a statewide task force established to look at ways to reduce food insecurity in North Carolina. The “Resilience Initiative” was formed to help counties find solutions to the challenges brought on by food insecurity among the state’s residents.
Hinman sees first-hand the effects food insecurity has on Granville County residents. She is the director of Area Congregations in Ministry (ACIM), a food bank located in Oxford. “We have seen a huge increase in the number of people we serve at ACIM since COVID-19,” Hinman said. “So many new faces, either people who have lost jobs completely or lost a job and had to take lower paying jobs” to provide for their families.
The initiative seeks to ensure that the food “ecosystem” across the state is strong. It is a project of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. Hinman said the task force will help bring attention to the real challenges around food insecurity to county commissioners across North Carolina. As a member and co-chair, Hinman said she hopes to raise awareness while increasing accessibility to high-quality, affordable food by anyone who may face food insecurity.
The task force was formed in response to an expected increase in the food insecurity rate, which is predicted to rise from 14 to 19.3 percent. Lost wages and job loss due to COVID-19 have negatively impacted the affordability of basic needs such as food and housing, creating a national and statewide crisis. In North Carolina, the average food insecurity rate is 14 percent, well above the national average of 10 percent, according to information from the Granville County government.
Her experience working with the local food bank was what led to her appointment, Hinman said, adding that she hopes to “find other resources out there and to learn what other people are doing” to combat food insecurity. “I also want to share with other people what we are doing at ACIM, because we’re doing a pretty good job right now,” she said.
The task force has had two virtual meetings so far, and Hinman said the group represents a good cross-section of the state. “Some of the other members have worked with food banks before, and others have not,” she said. So far, they have heard from NC Food Bank representatives and learned about different types of federally funded programs that provide emergency food assistance.
There are a dozen additional appointees from Wake, Randolph, Robeson, Tyrrell, Pitt, Bertie, Nash, Henderson, Wilkes, McDowell, Watauga and Brunswick counties. She was appointed by NCACC President Ronnie Smith. Hinman shares co-chair duties with Wake County Commissioner James West.
The task force will meet through August of 2021 to hear from experts, discuss potential partnerships and share experiences. The recommendations made by this group will serve as a road map for counties to implement plans and adopt solutions that will better meet local and regional needs.
“I am proud to have been selected to help lead this initiative, which I am so passionate about,” Hinman said of her appointment. “I look forward to sharing ideas and partnering with other counties to ensure that we address this serious issue that impacts so many, and on so many levels.”
Visit www.ncacc.org/resilience to learn more about this task force.