Political Pulse: Tackling food insecurity, economic woes, racial injustice in Elizabeth City


ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — With the election just weeks away, 10 On Your Side wants to find the political pulse of our communities. For the last few weeks, we’ve been going to local cities to learn about the issues people care about.

Voters in Elizabeth City, North Carolina care about a wide variety of issues, including healthcare, the economy, food insecurity, racial and social justice. One thing many people have in common is the hope that lawmakers will work together.

Elizabeth City is known as the “Harbor of Hospitality.” It’s home to members of the United States Coast Guard, college students, retirees and more.

A few weeks ago, 10 on Your Side set up a whiteboard along the Pasquotank River, asking people which issues they care about the most.

“I wrote on the whiteboard budget balance, healthcare and pandemic issues,” said Edenton resident Ray Mastracco. “Whether we get a Democratic president or Republican president, you know, it’s still the same issues. The same things have to be done.”

Charlie Young, who lives in Camden, said, “Well I like public peace and the Second Amendment.”

“Economic, racial and social equality,” said Alveta Chamblee, a Camden resident. “It’s been long overdue for our culture, for our community for our, African Americans in our area. I honestly feel like it’s past time for us to come together and make a stand for what we believe in, which is nothing but equality.”

“We have to get the economy moving, but in order to do that, we have to take care of the COVID issue,” said Elizabeth City resident Mick Adams. “We elected them and they fight and they posture and they don’t help.”

Another issue people are concerned about is food insecurity.

“Food insecurity across the nation is an issue because we’re always going to have people who are, don’t make enough resources,” said Liz Reasoner, executive director of the Food Bank of the Albemarle.

She says tens of thousands of people in northeast North Carolina are food insecure, and that’s only been amplified by the pandemic.

“We’ve distributed 2 million pounds of food more than we did the same time last year,” said Reasoner. “Food insecurity has gone from 47,000 people as of December of last year to now 65,000 people.”

The food bank serves 9,100 square miles and 15 counties.

Reasoner only expects the need to grow.

She said, “With the numbers of food insecurity rising by 38%, it’s going to be every bit of two years before we see the numbers begin to recede.”

She says the food bank has a good relationship with lawmakers, which she is grateful for as policy changes impact the aid available for people in need.

“No matter what side of politics you sit on, you understand that children need to be fed. Seniors need to have nutritious meals,” Reasoner said. “Those are bipartisan issues and Congress has done a great job of making sure those benefits get pushed through but sometimes policy is slow. What we do, is we kind of help support that drop when things change.”

For Reasoner, her work is about much more than politics: it’s about kindness, empathy and understanding.

“It’s about the people that wait in their cars for hours to pull up to be able to get a box of groceries. They wouldn’t do that if they didn’t need the food assistance,” Reasoner said.

You can donate to the Food Bank of the Albemarle by clicking here.

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