Food bank moves as need grows

CorrespondentApril 7, 2014 

  • About Feed the Need

    One in four children in our community will go hungry tonight. That’s why we’re inviting readers to help Feed the Need – The N&O’s annual community service project.

    Feed the Need raises awareness about kids and hunger, collects food donations and raises money for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. Through the Kids Meals and More programs, the food bank fills the gap for thousands of children in its service area.

    For example, Kids Cafe provides nutritious after-school meals, academic help, physical activity and nutrition education. Weekend Powerpacks provide nutritious food when school is not in session. Kids Summer Meals offer breakfast and lunch, including fresh fruit, over the summer.

    In its first seven years, Feed the Need supporters and sponsors have given cash and food donations that provided about 1.8 million meals. Feed the Need’s presenting sponsors are Syngenta and Harris Teeter, and its media sponsors are ABC11-TV and Curtis Media radio stations.

    Here’s how to help:

    • Donate nutritious, nonperishable food at area Harris Teeter stores through April 26. Look for collection bins near the store entrances.

    • Donate online at feedtheneednc.com.

    • Give by mail; watch for ads in The N&O and The Chapel Hill News that include a donation form.

    Donations of any size are appreciated; gifts of $100 or more will be acknowledged in a thank-you ad when the project is over. Gifts to the food bank are tax-deductible.

    Learn more at feedtheneednc.com.

  • If You Go

    A ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the new, expanded food bank location at 2700 Angier Ave. in Durham.

— The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina has moved to a larger space at 2700 Angier Ave. in East Durham.

The food bank branch has served Durham, Chatham, Granville, Orange, Person and Vance counties from its centralized location in Durham since 1999, beginning with space on Ramseur Street and since 2002, at 708 Gilbert St.

But the need to feed people who can’t afford enough food continues to grow, said spokeswoman Jennifer Caslin.

Since 2010, the bank has increased its distribution 12 percent and now serves almost 100,000 people, one in three of them children.

In January, the food bank crossed the 60 million pound mark in food delivery.

After looking at several possibilities, the new location, a former refrigerator-magnet factory, met the bank’s needs while remaining close to many partner agencies.

The space covers 29,000 square feet., almost 11,000 more square feet than on Gilbert Street and includes overflow freezers to house frozen meats.

For a long time, the old location had a freezer trailer in the parking lot to keep frozen foods.

There are now also overflow coolers for products like yogurt and fresh produce.

Other pluses include more office space, a bigger conference room, a break room, more docking space for deliveries and pick-ups, plenty of parking and increased space for volunteers.

Always needed, volunteers logged 170,000 hours last year, the equivalent of 80 staff members, Caslin said.

In addition to checking expiration dates and for dented cans, volunteers break down thousand pound wholesale boxes of foods like pasta and potatoes into consumer-friendly bags. Volunteers in the old building often found themselves working in the parking lot or various locations on the property. Now, they will all be in a more centralized area.

While work preapring the warehouse began last November, equipment started moving in at the end of February.

The quick move cost about $100,000. To help cover the figure, the bank is hosting a “virtual moving party” at its website, where donors can choose amounts to give.

Patrick Spencer, the branch outreach coordinator, began work at the food bank as a volunteer almost seven years ago.

He’s found the always needed items include kid-friendly donations – individual sized products like Pop-Tarts, fruit cups and juice boxes or other items that don’t need cooking or a can opener.

Recently he has noticed more calls from people wanting to help, from both agencies and individuals.

With the new building’s wood-paneled floors and a wall mural of the Bull City skyline greeting visitors and volunteers alike, Spencer said it is as good a time as any to pitch in.

“Volunteering opens your mind to your community around you,” he said. “It does something to your inside.”

 

Koonce: ckoonce29@yahoo.com

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