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This food truck is on a mission to end hunger in North Carolina

By Blue Cross NC | October 15, 2021 | Community Health, Community Partners, Investments, Public Health Challenges

Across North Carolina, millions of people don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Enter the Spinning Plate, a state-of-the-art mobile kitchen delivering healthy meals to people in need.

The Spinning Plate is a food truck on a mission: to make sure no one in North Carolina goes hungry. Powered by a small and mighty team of cooks, the truck travels across the state to service up warm meals in communities that face a risk of hunger.

One of those cooks is Dajai Johnson. Until she found the Spinning Plate, Dajai only thought of cooking as a hobby. Her love of cooking started when she was eight years old, when she received her first kids’ cookbook. She remembers watching in awe as her aunt would get up before the sun every day to prepare a full southern breakfast for her family.

What is food insecurity?

Food insecurity isn’t starvation. Instead, people who face food insecurity have limited or unpredictable access to healthy foods.

Studies show that a lack of food security leads to an increased risk of chronic health conditions. It’s also linked to higher levels of depression, stress and anxiety.

At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, we know hunger and health go hand-in-hand. We are committed to improving food security for all.

Now, cooking is Dajai’s career—and her way of giving back to her community.

“I love to see people’s joy from having hot food that they didn’t think they were going to get that day,” she said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever have faced food insecurity. Feeding America projects that 17% of our neighbors in North Carolina have experienced or will experience food insecurity because of the pandemic. That includes one in five children.

For Dajai, these numbers are unacceptable. When COVID hit, she worked day and night in the Spinning Plate kitchen to assist with emergency meal prep. The food truck, an initiative of the Interfaith Food Shuttle, partnered with food pantries, churches, schools and local organizations to deliver meals in the hardest-hit parts of the state.

With financial support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), Dajai and the rest of the culinary staff were able to serve thousands of people facing hunger because of COVID-19. The food truck was also retrofitted to withstand crisis situations and assist in disaster relief.

Kim Evans, a Blue Cross NC employee who works in community health, said the Spinning Plate’s efforts will improve the overall health and well-being of North Carolinians well beyond COVID-19.

“The more food secure people are, the healthier they are,” she said. “When people are food insecure, it contributes to many conditions like depression, anxiety and stress. Not only that, but it exacerbates chronic conditions like obesity, hypertension and diabetes. When we’re able to give people healthy food, that helps, because they have the fruits and vegetables they need for nutrition.”

Dajai, too, thinks of food as one of the first lines of defense against many health challenges.

“Food is the first medicine you ever have,” she said. “Eating healthier food will prolong your life. It will help your immune system. So food insecurity is a bigger issue than most people are aware of.”

At Blue Cross NC, we’re proud to partner with community organizations like the Spinning Plate to improve food security for all. While North Carolina currently ranks as the 10th hungriest state in the country, we hope to change that for good.

“Blue Cross NC has laser focused on food security because we have deemed hunger unacceptable,” Kim said. “We are determined. It is our mission that we will not stop until health care is better for all.”