In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation have provided $75,000 to three North Carolina food banks including: Food Bank of the Albemarle; Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina; and Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. Each will receive $25,000 from the Foundation, which is designated as direct relief for the victims of Hurricane Matthew.
"Thanks to support like the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, not only have we been able to respond and be a resource long term for these communities, but we have been able to provide nutritious and quality product for people in need," said Peter Werbicki, president and CEO of Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. "This generosity has shown these communities that they are important and they matter. They are not forgotten."
The Foundation chose the three food banks because collectively these organizations have coverage that serve nearly every area of the state that was affected by Hurricane Matthew. These food banks also provide aid and services to all people regardless of residence status.
"We understand the basic rights of all human beings," said Liz Reasoner, executive director of Food Bank of the Albemarle. "Food will never be used punitively based on someone's status."
Disaster relief and direct services are not typical focus areas of the Foundation. While the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation acknowledges that natural disasters are, by definition, deviations from normal occurrences, the Foundation also recognizes that natural disasters will occur more frequently due to climate change and that vulnerable populations, especially low-income communities and communities of color, will be disproportionately impacted.
"While this type of funding is outside of the scope of the Foundation's usual grantmaking, Trustees felt it was critical to provide direct relief to assist many victims of Hurricane Matthew," said Maurice "Mo" Green, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. "There are many individuals and families who are still displaced in the wake of the Hurricane. Our thoughts remain with all of those, especially those living in communities hit hardest, who are working to rebuild their lives."
The Foundation's grant to the food banks is one of 183 grants totaling $8.8 million that Trustees awarded to organizations across the state during its Fall 2016 grant cycle in November 2016. Trustees have made a decision to suspend grantmaking for the Foundation's Spring 2017 grant cycle in order to focus its efforts on a year-long strategic assessment process, to examine and evaluate its current approach to grantmaking and broader work. At the end of this process, by May 2017, ZSR plans to produce a strategic plan that will guide the work of the Foundation moving forward.