RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 449th Theater Aviation Brigade helped Action Pathways’ Second Harvest Food Bank transport and hand out food at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville May 7.
The Guard members worked alongside volunteers from the food bank, Team Rubicon and Fort Bragg to hand out more than 30,000 pounds of food, approximately 25,000 meals, to nearly 1,200 Cumberland County residents.
Each family received a box of canned and dry goods, a box of produce, a bag of frozen chicken and a bag of apples.
Residents began lining up in the Coliseum parking lot shortly after 2 a.m. and by the time distribution started at 10 a.m., hundreds of cars filled the lot and a line of cars stretched down the road.
“It’s a lifesaver,” said Katherine Hill, who made it into the parking lot before the line. “You’re short on food. You’re not working. It’s a great help to get this.”
Sgt. Melissa Jordan, assigned to 1-130th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 449th Theater Aviation Brigade, was one of about 30 members of the Guard helping load cars and direct traffic – something she was happy to do.
“Knowing people are in need and I’m the one getting to help them, it’s a great feeling,” Jordan said. “Whether it’s something like this or a natural disaster, I joined the Guard to help people.”
The Guard members packed the boxes of food and delivered them to the Coliseum parking lot before assisting with distribution.
Social distancing and other protective measures have made it hard for Action Pathways and the Second Harvest Food Bank to get volunteers. The North Carolina National Guard’s support has been essential to food distribution operations across the state.
“Having the logistics handled by the National Guard has made this so much more efficient,” said Lonnie Ballard, chief executive officer for Action Pathways. “The Guard really did help to multiply our efforts.”
There are more than 900 North Carolina National Guard Soldiers and Airmen positioned across the stare helping local emergency and health officials with the response to COVID-19.