RALEIGH – With the increase of alternative labor and logistics sources, North Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen ceased their food bank operations April 15th, after over a year assisting the program’s mission to feed citizens in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The operations’ height saw over 300 Guard men and women embedded with food bank workers across North Carolina, aiding with warehouse operations, food sorting and preparation, transportation of food, and the school feeding program.
“We are so proud of the dedication and hard-work hundreds of NC Guardsmen accomplished working at food banks over the past year. This will be a shining chapter in the history of our domestic operations,” said Brig. Gen. Jeff Copeland, NCNG’s Director of Joint Staff and Dual-Status Commander overseeing military support at FEMA’s Community Vaccination Center in Greensboro.
NC Guard teams of anywhere from 10 to 30 service members supported 12 food banks in Asheville, Butner, Salisbury, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Durham, Raleigh, Elizabeth City, Greenville, New Bern, Fayetteville, and Wilmington.
“The North Carolina Guard has been herculean in its foodbank support for over a year,” said Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks. “While their assignments have changed for some, there are still hundreds of soldiers and airmen working in our COVID-19 vaccination centers, as well as supporting movement of supplies for shots and testing, along with many other missions. Their selfless service to North Carolinians in need embodies our values at the Department of Public Safety.”
Altogether NC Guardsmen sorted, packed, and prepared 2,878,627 meals intended for North Carolinians in need, including the more than 8,739,689 pounds of food they helped distribute.
Additionally, Guardsmen drove more than 252,187 miles supporting COVD response with 73,000 of them being food bank missions and school feeding programs. The Guard helped distribute 332,439 meals to school children who would not have had access to school meals because of closures during the pandemic.
“Over the past year, North Carolina Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen have logged thousands of hours serving food banks across our state,” said NC Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “Their work has been invaluable in fighting food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we owe them our gratitude.”
551 NC Guardsmen are still deployed across the state for COVID-19 vaccine operations and have supported healthcare agencies vaccinate over 700,000 citizens to date.