My name is Allison Jennings, and I am the Food Service Coordinator for Hospitality House. We provided over 10,000 meals just last month to our residents and others who are hungry and looking for their next meal. The Bread of Life Community Kitchen at Hospitality House also provided food boxes for over 550 people. Some 10,000 meals plus food boxes for 550 people each and every month. I am the only paid staff in our kitchen.
Schools are getting out for the summer very soon. Thousands of parents and children in Watauga County depend on our schools to provide meals for students. For most of these families, this is the only food available to them.
Where will these parents go to feed their children?
The federal government has cut back TEFAP assistance (which is food going directly to food pantries like Hospitality House) by 60%. The House Agricultural Committee has approved over $20 billion in cuts to the Food Stamp Program.
The federal government has told these families to go somewhere else for help.
Our NC state government has cut food assistance through the State Nutritional Assistance Program by 50%. The NC Senate is considering tripling our food sales tax, from the current 2% to 6.5%.
Our NC legislators have told these families to go somewhere else for help.
Will these families turn to churches, our schools and civic organizations to feed their children? There are programs available, called the Summer Foods Program, to offer healthy, nutritious meals in the summertime, while schools are out. I have asked churches and Watauga County Schools to please participate in this program. I have been told "no," "not now," "maybe next summer."
Where will these hungry families turn?
They are turning to you.
As a person who sees the face of hunger every day because of homelessness, job loss, addictions or mental health issues, I ask on behalf of those struggling neighbors that I love so much, please help be a part of the solution. Please do not tell us, like so many others have, to go somewhere else.
Thank you for your time.