The Ashe County Sharing Center played a significant role in the 2014 Hunger in America study, and the benefits for the county are priceless.
“We are proud of our volunteers that represented the Sharing Center,” said Kelly Vannoy, chairperson of the Sharing Center’s Board of Directors. “I think it’s just a reflection of how the volunteers at the Sharing Center are always willing to go the extra mile to do whatever it takes to make our program a success.”
Hunger in America is a survey that is conducted nationwide every four years by the nonprofit Feeding America to learn more about those using food assistance programs and chart how area charities meet the need.
“We are blessed at the Sharing Center,” said Michael Sexton, the Sharing Center’s program facilitator. “God has blessed us so much that we feel like we need to give back to the hunger studies and help anyway we can.”
While volunteers drove to several of the 18 counties served by Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest N.C without any monetary reimbursement, Ashe County will gain something more valuable.
“Hunger in America will do a report on Ashe County,” Sexton said. “It will be a snapshot of the hunger situation in our county.”
Approximately 40 Ashe County residents took part in the anonymous survey, which gives information on if families go without food or have to choose paying for other things instead of food such as medicine, housing or utilities.
Also, Ashe Sharing Center was able to network with other food pantries in the district so they could see how they could help one-another out.
“We learned a lot from doing these surveys as well,” Vannoy said. “We went to so many different food pantries and programs that it was really advantageous for us in that respect.”
The Sharing Center provided 11 of Second Harvest food bank’s 69 data collectors. Those from Ashe conducted 31 visits and racked up 276.5 in volunteer hours.
The economic value of the volunteer hours totaled $6,121.71, or $22.14 per hour.
“It was very important that we helped (Feeding America) to be successful,” Sexton said. “Their success is our success.”
The data, which will be verified by Westat, and the report will be available in 2014.
“(The report) will have graphs and data in it that we will be able to report back to the community on,” Sexton said.
Vannoy said the Sharing Center has done informal surveys in the past.
“We have done informal surveys here with our clients, so we’re interested to see how our survey results compare to the ones from Hunger in America,” she said.