NC Budget and Tax Center

As we gear up for another storm, N.C. is still facing the effects of Hurricane Matthew

Alamance Community Park, in Robeson County, near Lumberton, NC, remained inundated with flood waters on Oct. 16, 2016. Floodwater from Hurricane Matthew came to the bottom edge of the park signs when the storm first hit. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Alamance Community Park, in Robeson County, near Lumberton, NC, remained inundated with flood waters on Oct. 16, 2016. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

As the state prepares for the imminent Hurricane Florence, let’s not forget those who are still facing the impacts from the catastrophic aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. On Oct. 8, 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina, resulting in major flooding and property damage that affected more than 50 counties. With $2.8 billion in damages and $2 billion in economic impairment, the storm resulted in an estimated loss of 800,000 homes, 300,000 businesses, the displacement of 3,744 residents, and closures in 34 school systems.

As of October 2017, a year after Matthew hit eastern North Carolina, the state had received $396 million in federal recovery funding and about $385 million in state recovery funding — leaving $450-$500 million in unmet needs for affected North Carolina communities. As we near the two-year mark, life for many in eastern North Carolina has not returned back to normal, and this impending storm will serve an even bigger blow to their livelihoods.

North Carolina has historically not invested enough to ensure all North Carolinians have the ability to thrive. Although our policy makers set aside a Rainy Day Fund to assist in times of disaster, the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew made it clear they are not willing to adequately disperse the savings when our communities need it most. In learning from past mistakes, we need to push for policy makers to make wiser infrastructure investments in our schools, roads, and other public services and programs. We need to also ensure they begin to develop a comprehensive approach to protection, management, and preparedness during times of disaster that aid in the immediate and long term needs of our communities. As Hurricane Florence approaches, we must remind ourselves of the importance of working together to ensure our lawmakers are committed to the overall goal of making a more equitable North Carolina.

Chanae Wilson is an Engagement Coordinator with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. 

NC Budget and Tax Center

How can North Carolina make sure students are eating breakfast?

The benefits of school breakfast participation are clear — reduced hunger, improved academic achievement and test scores, elevated health and nutrition, and reduced absenteeism, tardiness, and behavior referrals. In 2016-2017, more children participated in the school breakfast program nationally than ever before, according to the Food Research Action Center’s (FRAC) School Breakfast Scorecard. This report measures the reach of the School Breakfast Program in the 2016–2017 school year — nationally and in each state — based on a variety of metrics, and examines the impact of select trends and policies on program participation. While participation from year to year has continued to increase nationally, the rate of growth has slowed.

We want to ensure a thriving North Carolina by providing everyone with the resources to have a sufficient childhood development. North Carolina is the 10th hungriest state in the nation, meaning many families face high levels of food insecurity. These families do not have access to the nutritious foods necessary to safeguard their children are healthy. For children, poor nutrition is associated with anxiety, diet-related diseases, learning difficulties, and health problems, that can affect them throughout their K-12 education journey and as they continue to grow into adulthood. The school breakfast program plays a critical role in filling voids for low-income families. Here are some ways NC schools can continue to increase breakfast participation: Read more

NC Budget and Tax Center

Making sure students aren’t hungry should be a top priority for N.C.

The healthy development of children is essential to building and sustaining a prosperous society.  Still, 1 in 5 North Carolina children face food insecurity each day, which threatens their well-being and life outcomes.  Nationally, North Carolina is the 8th most food insecure state in the country, with 1 out of every 6 households being food insecure – meaning these families do not access to food, which is needed to ensure their child is healthy, academically successful, and has sufficient early childhood development.

Food insecure households with children are more likely to have trouble with providing adequate food for the family. For children, poor nutrition is associated with anxiety, diet-related diseases, learning difficulties, health problems, and other poor health outcomes that can affect them throughout their K-12 education journey and as they grow into adulthood.

Addressing North Carolina’s persistent food insecurity challenge requires deliberate attention to the role, design and impact of federal, state and local initiatives that aim to ensure access to food for everyone in communities across the state. The positive link between the health of students and their academic achievement is an opportunity we much seize upon and leverage as a state. Children who eat breakfast perform better on standardized tests and have better concentration in class, increased alertness, improved comprehension, improved memory, and improved learning.

Here are some of the ways in which public policy and initiatives can work to combat child hunger and assist educators with improving the learning outcomes of students. Read more