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NEWS | April 30, 2020

North Carolina Guard pitches in on the farm to help needy

By Maj. Ellis Parks North Carolina National Guard

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 1-130th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB), 449th Theater Aviation Brigade, helped plant, tend and harvest produce at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle farm April 29.

The 1-130th Soldiers working on the Inter-Faith farm joined more than 940 NCNG Soldiers and Airmen supporting North Carolina Emergency Management, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and other emergency response partners in COVID-19 response efforts across the state.

The pandemic has put a lot of people out of work and increased demand for food.

“We have been trying to find creative ways, innovative ways, to send more product out,” said Jonathan Lee of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. “About 80% of what we grow is normally designated for distribution (to food-insecure individuals) through our programs. … During the outbreak, we are designating 100% of what we grow to our programs.”

Lee said his organization's programs rely on volunteer labor.

The 1-130th Soldiers typically work on or around or fly the state’s AH-64 Apache helicopters. But during the COVID-19 response, they are asked to do something a little different.

“The goal is to help the farm, like yesterday my guys harvested almost 500 pounds of collards,” said 2nd Lt. James Campbell, the officer in charge on the ground for the farming mission.

“This has been a really unique experience … to be able to get in the dirt and plant some plants as well as help the community. … But overall, to see this and get hands-on from planting the food to handing the food out to the public has been really meaningful,” said Campbell.

Helping the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is one way the NCNG is fulfilling its role of domestic emergency response. Nationwide, more than 45,000 members of the National Guard are supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.