Council approves $ 625,000 to tackle food insecurity and drug addiction and provide training for film workers

Northside Food Co-Op project manager Evan Folds delivered free curbside food at a pop-up event last winter. (Port City Daily / Williams)

WILMINGTON – On Wednesday, city council voted to allocate a total of $ 625,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to three area nonprofits. The city is expected to receive nearly $ 26 million from ARPA over the next two years and has received $ 13 million in funding to date. $ 9 million will go to economic stimulus and community aid programs, according to a press release.

The Nov. 3 council voted in favor of $ 400,000 for North Carolina’s new nonprofit film partnership. The program will provide workforce training and focus on diversifying the candidate pool within the local film industry, which experienced a boom in 2021. This is expected to be the biggest year of Wilmington to date, with over $ 300 million.

Several productions were shot simultaneously in town throughout the year; film crews work with between 200 and 400 people per production. With Covid-19 affecting the labor market, crews remain in high demand. The Film Partnership of NC will help train carpenters, electricians, cameramen and production assistants behind the scenes. It will train a minimum of 90 people, focusing specifically on underserved communities, paying $ 15 per hour, with up to 10 hours overtime at $ 22 per hour.

READ MORE: New job training program would diversify film crews, Wilmington likely commit upfront funds

“These resources will not only finance the training of 90 people, but will also serve as a likely catalyst for additional investments in public and private resources,” the city noted in its statement.

Also focusing on underserved areas, the Northside Food Co-Op will receive $ 125,000 to help them in their efforts to provide fresh produce and food to residents of downtown Wilmington. The Food Co-op was launched in 2020 with the goal of building a much-needed grocery store in the Northside. The area is considered a food desert, in that it is home to low-income populations, with most residents living more than a mile from the nearest grocery store.

The Northside Co-op has a nine-member board of directors made up of civic leaders and members of local nonprofits and businesses, some even from neighbors of Northside, charged with breaking the cycle of insecurity. food in the area. In recent months, the group has held markets on Saturdays, working with local farmers and other vendors who sell produce, meat, homemade produce and soaps to buyers in the area.

Cierra Washington, the co-op’s strategic outreach and partnerships coordinator, told Port City Daily in October that the funds would go towards the co-op’s operational costs, including staff, and its end goal of starting a grocery store. The Association of American Medical Colleges noted that 54 million people were affected by food insecurity during the pandemic. Locally, the Food Bank of Eastern NC – Wilmington estimates that 74,830 people face hunger in the immediate area.

READ MORE: Wilmington distributes more coronavirus relief money. This time it’s to fight against food insecurity

Another problem exacerbated by the pandemic: drug addiction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 93,000 lives were killed by overdoses in 2020, a 30% increase from 2019. Last year, New Hanover County recorded 32 deaths per 100,000 population due to an unintentional opioid overdose, 45% more than the northern average. Caroline.

Coastal Horizons’ Opioid Overdose Rapid Response (QRT) team has helped fight the numbers by providing services to people with substance abuse disorder. The Opioid Overdose QRT program began in 2018 as an opioid-focused pilot, in response to Wilmington being one of the top-ranked cities facing the crisis across the country.

City Council has awarded $ 100,000 in ARPA funding to Coastal Horizons to continue its outreach activities. The money will help continue an “innovative, temporary and ongoing overdose reduction and treatment program,” according to the city’s press release. The program is anchored by specialists who work in the field with people who have been referred by family members, as well as with community members who have overdosed but have chosen not to seek treatment. . Professionals often have first-hand experiences with drug addiction and continue to contact individuals until a no-contact request is made.

In 2019 and 2020, Coastal Horizon QRT specialists provided help to 589 overdose survivors, 513 of whom sought treatment. The program showed a 90% success rate in 2019-2020.

READ MORE: Wilmington invests $ 100,000 in ARP funds to fight spike in overdoses during pandemic

Wilmington City Council is expected to commit ARPA funds by December 31, 2024. So far, the council has spent $ 4.67 million on infrastructure and $ 12.26 million on the continued response and recovery of the city. Covid-19, such as staff bonuses. It awards $ 700,000 to nonprofit organizations, of which $ 200,000 goes to organizations offering arts-based programs.

The city also joined a partnership with the county to fund $ 4.2 million in small business grants. The city funded 86 businesses with $ 1.9 million, with the county helping 106 businesses with $ 2.3 million. The grant program attracted 650 applicant companies, including 192 meeting all the qualifications

The Board will discuss ARPA’s additional funding allocations at an upcoming meeting in December.

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