RAEFORD, N.C. – North Carolina Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 449th Theater Aviation Brigade helped Action Pathways Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina transport and hand out food in Raeford on May 1, 2020.In addition to hauling 30 pallets of food to the distribution site, the group of 30 Guard members directed cars through the parking lot and loaded vehicles with boxes and bags of food. Each family received a box of produce, a bag of frozen meat, a bag of potatoes, and a box that included canned goods, dry goods, milk, cereal, rice and cornmeal.David Griffin, an emergency services administrator for the food bank, said it was great having the Soldiers there to help.“G.I. Joe has nothing on them,” Griffin said. “Without their help, we couldn’t have done this today. We couldn’t have provided 20,000 meals that were given to these individuals and families that come through our line.”Altogether, the Soldiers loaded more than 27,000 lbs of food that will provide about 20,000 meals for 500 families.When I look at the statistics before COVID-19, we had 125,000 people here in South East North Carolina that were food insecure,” Griffin said. “If you double that or maybe triple that with people out of work, people laid off, we all need to come together and make sure we take care of our neighbors. Hunger can’t wait. Food is essential to everything.”The Southeast North Carolina section of Second Harvest Food Bank covers seven counties and Griffin said the North Carolina National Guard has been helping plan and execute food distribution.Sgt. Maj. Melodie Hunt, Battalion Sergeant Major for 2-130th Airfield Operations Battalion, 449th Theater Aviation Brigade, said the Guard members are eager to support their community.“A lot of them are young and new to the National Guard, and only know the federal mission of being deployed overseas,” Hunt said. “Helping out their communities is a first time experience for them. A lot of them are from this region, so it’s a way for them to give back to their community.”These Guardsmen are only 30 of the more than 900 Citizen-Soldiers who are currently supporting local health and emergency officials to provide support to the people of North Carolin during the COVID-19 response.“It’s the reason I joined,” said Spc. Jacob Brannan with 1-130th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 449th Theater Aviation Brigade. “It’s been an eye-opening experience to see the other side of it and I just really want to help out.”North Carolina National Guard Soldiers assigned to 2-130 Airfield Operations Battalion, 449th Theater Aviation Brigade, load boxes of food into vehicles while helping Action Pathways Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina distribute food in Raeford, N.C. on May 5, 2020. More than 900 NCNG Soldiers and Airmen have been activated in response to COVID-19 relief efforts to help support NC Emergency Management, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, and their local communities.For more National Guard news: http://www.nationalguard.mil/National Guard Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheNationalGuard/National Guard Twitter: https://twitter.com/usnationalguardHow the National Guard is helping: https://www.nationalguard.mil/coronavirus/Photos of the National Guard response: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thenationalguard/albums/72157713483827538Latest from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/U.S. response: https://www.coronavirus.gov/White House-CDC response: https://www.coronavirus.gov/