The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina was founded in 1980 as the Community Food Bank, the first food bank in the state. The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina provided start-up funds prompted by its concern about an increasing problem of homelessness and hunger in Raleigh and its surrounding communities. In 1984, the Food Bank gained affiliation with Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest).
Since its founding, the Food Bank has expanded services in an attempt to keep pace with a growing demand for emergency food, distributing 839,196,967 meals (and counting). In 1985, the organization distributed just under 1 million pounds of food to a network of nearly 100 agencies. In 1996, distribution rose to 6.5 million pounds of food to a family of 480 private, emergency feeding programs and sister food banks (1 million pounds of which was disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Fran). Then 1999 brought Hurricane Floyd to eastern North Carolina, and with it, the Food Bank set a new record for largest distribution. The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina distributed 18.8 million pounds of food in fiscal year 1999-2000. In 2018, Hurricanes Florence and Michael battered Food Bank CENC's service area, within weeks of each other. Disaster Response to these storms has set a new Food Bank record of distributing 9 million pounds of food and supplies into 27 counties in and around our service area. (This number comes on top of our day-to-day operations, and is still growing as our relief work continues into 2019).
Today, the Food Bank stocks shelves at a network of more than 800 partner agencies such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and programs for children and adults through distribution centers in Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, the Sandhills (Southern Pines), and Wilmington. Last year the Food Bank distributed 68.3 million pounds of food and non-food essentials through these agencies.
Sadly, food insecurity remains a serious problem in central and eastern North Carolina. In these counties, more than 600,000 people struggle to access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for an active and healthy life. To help shorten the line, Food Bank CENC launched a new department: Community Health & Engagement.