Farmer Foodshare and El Vínculo Hispano: Partnering to Relieve Hunger in Siler City, North Carolina

Farmer Foodshare and The Hispanic Liaison in Siler City recently began working together with local farms to try to bring a regular supply of fresh and nutritious vegetables, meat and dairy products to the Food Pantry at The Hispanic Liaison.

The Hispanic Liaison organization serves local Hispanic families in a variety of ways, from youth leadership and gang prevention to job training, community gardening and emergency services like food. For the last several years, The Hispanic Liaison has not been able to provide a regular supply of fresh food (and certainly not local farm fresh food) to their clients. This year, Farmer Foodshare is hoping to change that, with the help of generous local farms like Beausol Gardens and Sanctuary, the Mid-Chatham Farmers’ Alliance CSA, which includes Harland’s Creek Farm, Wiseacre Farm, Chapel Hill Creamery and Cohen Farm, as well as private community supporters and donors including Carolina Meadows.

Here are a few stories about who needs the fresh and healthy food and how it will help. Healthy food is fundamental to being able to live a healthy and productive life for all ages - from children to seniors. Farmer Foodshare is happy to support this innovative agency as they play a key role in improving lives in Chatham County. 

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A letter from Hispanic Liaison/El Vínculo Hispano — Relieving Hunger in Siler City:

“Angel and his wife Rosalinda moved to Siler City from Richmond in December with their two kids. They came with the promise of a job for Rosalinda that in the end wasn’t available. Right before Christmas the family came to us seeking help and we gave them a box of canned food, pasta and rice. They are still looking for work and haven’t been able to pay for their rent for December nor January, and the electric bill is still to come.

Adriana and her husband Carlos have been living in Siler City for 12 years. They have 8 beautiful and healthy children between the ages of 8 months and 17 years. With the closing of the poultry plant in Siler City, Carlos lost his job and the family has since had to move to a cheaper and smaller home and is living on less than $200 per week because the hours that Carlos is called to work are unpredictable and scarce in the winter. Adriana never wants to ask but is always grateful for the bags of food we distribute every other Monday at the Hispanic Liaison.

Macario and his wife Itermelinda lost their mobile home in December to a fire that started in their kitchen in the middle of the night. They’d been proud homeowners and had lived in Moncure for the last 8 years. They came to us seeking emergency financial assistance and emergency food to help them get through this difficult time. They’re currently staying with a family member in Raleigh, until Macario finds work to help his family get back on their own two feet.

These are only a few stories of the situations that our Hispanic Liaison clients face in times of great need. Our Hispanic Liaison food pantry is here to help alleviate hunger during these difficult times. We serve an average of 46 to 50 families per food pantry, the sizes of which range from 4 to 12 members living in each household. Each household receives a bag sized according to their needs and we do our best to provide a wide range of vegetables, fruit, bread, cereal and other items. Many families have “doubled-up” in terms of their living situation, due to job losses, and often times there are two to three families living off of the paychecks of one or two workers. 

Since, 2008, 1,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Siler City and an additional 780 were lost with the closure of Townsends Poultry Plant at the end of September, 2011. As of October, 2011 the unemployment rate in Siler City is 6.5%. The job losses have led to an increase in need for food assistance and our Hispanic Liaison food pantry has seen a steady increase in attendance.

In Siler City, the percentage of residents living in poverty in 2009 was 26.7% (8.1% for White Non-Hispanic residents, 46.7% for Black residents, 33.4% f or Hispanic or Latino residents, 25.3% for other race residents), 29.8% of residents living below the poverty level are below 18 years of age; 15.7% are less than 5 years of age. Last year, the Hispanic Liaison distributed 2,350 food boxes at our bi-weekly Hunger Relief Initiative food pantry, averaging 52 families per pantry that were at a reduced risk of hunger.

One of our Hispanic Liaison Food Pantry goals this year is to build relationships with local farmers to help channel a source of healthy food to our clients. Through our partnership with Farmer Foodshare we hope to give birth to new partnerships with farmers and dairy producers so that everyone can eat healthier and live better, even in times of great crisis and food shortage.”