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(WGHP) — One in six people who live in northwest North Carolina struggles with hunger.

“Second Harvest Food Bank serves as the only food bank of northwest North Carolina, serving 18 counties from Boone to Burlington down to Statesville and up to the Virginia line,” said Eric Aft, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.

According to Aft, the need is great right now — especially due to the pandemic.

“We anticipate a big spike as extra unemployment benefits are cut out and people are faced with challenges, big rent bills, big utility bills,” Aft said. “And the fact that some folks just haven’t been able to return to the workforce.”

And more need, paired with fewer donations means higher costs for Second Harvest Food Bank.

“In a typical year we would spend about $400,000 to purchase food. Last year we spent $4 million and we anticipate spending millions again to purchase food,” Aft said.

That’s where fundraisers, like the Saturday’s Run on the Runway at Piedmont Triad International Airport, come in.

“We’re over $100-thousand raised,” said Stephanie Freeman, of PTI. “I’m excited that everybody’s coming back and supporting us again.”

Last year’s event was canceled due to COVID-19, but this year the event is back and better than ever.

“The Houston Rockets airplane is going to be out there, FedEx is going to bring a plane,” Freeman said, of the Run on the Runway. “If you’re not running or walking, maybe you’re coming to cheer on a friend or family member, you can see and stand beside some really huge airplanes.”

The Run on the Runway has raised $100,000 each year for the past several years. This year’s beneficiaries include Open Door Ministries, Greensboro Urban Ministry and Second Harvest Food Bank.

“Events like Run on the Runway are vital because we’re able to tell the story,” Aft said. “Whether it’s the family that faced lay-offs or illness and we can all do something to give them a little help to get back on their feet.”

The Run on the Runway is Saturday, Sept. 18. To learn more or register, visit