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Piedmont second ‘Hungriest Place’ in America, according to report

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- On the heels of sweeping cuts to North Carolina's unemployment benefits, officials with Second Harvest Food Bank say they worry parts of the Piedmont will continue to be ranked among the nation's worst when it comes to children and adults facing hunger.

The Food Research and Action Center's recent 2012 Food Hardship report says the Greensboro/High Point metropolitan area ranks second in the country when it comes to adults facing food hardships. The report says 23% of adults don't have enough to eat.

The same group ranked Winston-Salem worst in the country in 2011 when it comes to children facing food hardships.

Tomi Melson, Director of Development for Second Harvest Food Bank, says she fears those statistics are only going to get worse.

"It terrifies me. We are headed for the perfect storm. Increased taxes on food, shorten the amount of unemployment benefits, cut the emergency food supply and where is that going to take us," Melson said.

Melson says in the summer, the food bank already struggles to make sure it's more than 300 partner agencies in 18 Piedmont counties have enough food. Add more families that will likely start showing up as their unemployment benefits end and those running food pantries are also worried.

"We keep track of how many new families come in every week and it's anywhere between 12 and 20 new families every week. It scares me," said Jeff Devore of Landmark Relief Food Pantry in Iredell County.

The Food Research and Action Center says Bakersfield, California leads the nation with 26.7% of adults facing food insecurities. Greensboro/High Point tied for second with the New Orleans area.

When it comes to adults facing food hardships, Winston-Salem's metro area, which includes Davie and Yadkin Counties came in 63rd.

Find a complete look at the Food Hardship report here.