Durham County

New Child Food Hub to help make sure kids won’t go hungry

Boxes filled with juice boxes for children will be packed in bags at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s new Child Food Hub for the BackPack Buddies program that serves more than 2,000 children in the Triangle area each week.
Boxes filled with juice boxes for children will be packed in bags at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s new Child Food Hub for the BackPack Buddies program that serves more than 2,000 children in the Triangle area each week. dvaughan@heraldsun.com

Hundreds more children will have healthy food to eat with the opening of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Child Food Hub in Durham.

The 7,000-square-foot warehouse on South Miami Boulevard near Research Triangle Park will serve as the hub for child-hunger programs, including BackPack Buddies and PORCH-Durham, as well as food pantries at schools in seven Triangle-area counties.

During the first week of the school year in August, 2,545 bags of food were sent home with children at 83 locations in Durham, Wake, Orange, Chatham, Johnston, Nash and Edgecombe counties. By the second week of October, that number will rise to 2,601 BackPack Buddies bag each week, said Sara Walker of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, who expects the number to rise in the coming months.

There are refrigerated Food Shuttle pantries at 27 middle and high schools in the seven counties, too, so families can come in and choose food.

In Durham and across the state an estimated 1 in 5 children is at risk of hunger, according to the Food Shuttle, a nonprofit funded by public and private donations.

All the BackPack Buddies and food-pantry users are confidential. Each school identifies students in need. To keep recipients confidential, there are no marked backpacks, but rather bags of food are put in the students’ own backpacks, said Amber Simmons, the Food Shuttle’s child hunger programs manager.

Simmons gave a tour of the new warehouse at its official opening Thursday. “This is how we’re going to be able to fight child hunger,” she said, standing amid pallets stacked with crates of canned and boxed food and drinks.

“This is how we’re going to be able to fight child hunger,” said Amber Simmons, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s child hunger programs manager as she gave tours of the new Child Food Hub in Durham. Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan dvaughan@heraldsun.com

Which schools provide food

“We really want to grow Durham,” said Inter-Faith Food Shuttle CEO Dave Koch. “Durham is a high-need area.”

Durham County’s nine pantries at schools and other sites serve more than 900 people each month. Fourteen BackPack Buddies sites serve about 650 children weekly.

Food pantries for youth in Durham:

Brogden Middle School

Durham Technical Community College

Durham Teen Center

Githens Middle School

Hillside New Technical High School

Lowes Grove Middle School

Neal Middle School

Northern High School

Southern High School

BackPack Buddies sites in Durham:

Boys and Girls Club of Durham and Orange Counties

Carrington Elementary School

C.C. Spaulding Elementary School

Club Boulevard Elementary School

Eastway Elementary School

Forest View Elementary School

George Watts Elementary School

Glenn Elementary School

E.K. Powe Elementary School

Holt Elementary School

Lucas Elementary School

Parkwood Elementary School

Spring Valley Elementary School

Y.E. Smith Elementary School

How you can help

BackPack Buddies: Volunteers are needed in groups or as individuals to help in the warehouse with sorting food drive donations, organizing crates, restocking shelves and administrative duties. Groups of three to 15 volunteers are needed to sort through food donations, organize and restock packing areas. Groups of five to 15 volunteers can also work as an assembly line to pack BackPack Buddies bags with six meals and two snacks for children to take home each weekend. The packing schedule is 9:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. To schedule a time to volunteer by yourself or with a group, email volunteer coordinator Mynikah Stokes at mynikah@foodshuttle.org.

Host a food drive: Your organization, place or worship or school can host a food drive for Food Shuttle pantries. Items for food drives should be proteins (canned beans, meats, non-creamy soups); fruits and vegetables in cans and squeeze pouches; healthy snacks like granola bars and raisins; breakfast items like whole grain cereals, oatmeal and grits; noodles like individual packages of macaroni and cheese and ramen; and 100 percent fruit juice and 2 percent or less milk that is shelf stable. Contact food drive coordinator Laura Clay at laura@foodshuttle.org or 919-390-3055 if you want to host a food drive.

PORCH-Durham: PORCH-Durham will collect food from your front porch if your neighborhood is part of PORCH-Durham. Neighborhood coordinators email donors with the schedule for collecting donations from your porch. Food is delivered to the Child Food Hub for BackPack Buddies and school pantries in Durham. Financial donations are also accepted for the program. To volunteer or donate, email durham@porchcommunities.org or visit durham.porchcommunities.org. For information about other PORCH communities, including in Raleigh, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Western Wake and Hillsborough, visit porchcommunities.org.

Cans of vegetables stacked in the 7,000 square-foot warehouse in Durham that is the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s new Child Food Hub. Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan dvaughan@heraldsun.com

For more information about the Food Shuttle, visit foodshuttle.org.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan