(From L to R: CORA Executive Director, Beth Budd; Pantry Manager, Lyndie Bracey; Carolina Meadows Volunteer, Jim Abrahamson; and Carolina Meadows Volunteer, Bill Powers)
CHAPEL HILL, NC – Carolina Meadows residents are gearing up for their annual fundraiser and food drive this month to support the Food Pantry of the Chatham OutReach Alliance (CORA). It’s a cause residents say they are more than happy to support.
“It’s important that we recognize that there are thousands of needy people who really wonder where their next meal is coming from,” said Bill Powers, a Carolina Meadows resident and CORA volunteer.
CORA Executive Director Beth Budd says hunger in North Carolina is a bigger problem than most people realize.
“You really can’t believe that that’s happening so close to an area that’s so affluent. But it is,” Budd explained.
Budd says this is a problem no one should have to face, especially children. “When I see some of these kids who are not getting three meals a day, it just really breaks your heart,” Budd said.
She vividly remembers the day a volunteer told her the story of a young girl she had been tutoring the day before.
“Toward the end of their session, when it was getting to be 5-5:30, the volunteer said, ‘We should probably stop now so you can get home in time for dinner.’ And the girl said, ‘That’s OK. It’s not my turn to have dinner.'”
It’s very difficult to do anything when you’re hungry, Budd added. “You can’t work properly, and you can’t think properly. Children’s bodies and brains don’t develop properly if they’re not nourished properly and that’s what we’re here for.”
In 2014, Budd said, CORA provided 19,620 individual weekly food rations, the equivalent of 412,020 meals, for 6,119 needy Chatham County families. This year with the help of the community and Carolina Meadows, Budd says the organization aims to provide 21,000 individual weekly food rations or 441,000 meals, feeding a total of 6,300 families.
“We’re so lucky to have such a supportive community,” Budd said. “Carolina Meadows is one of those anchor organizations that has made it possible for CORA not to just survive, but to thrive and grow.”
Since 2007, Carolina Meadows has awarded CORA eight grants through its Community Grants Program. This year, residents are donating food and funds at the community’s Club Center from May 18 to 31.
“When our community comes together for a need such as this, it can make a big difference,” Powers said. “There are a lot of people doing a little, which adds up to a lot.”
Budd says fundraising efforts over the summer are extremely important to keep CORA’s pantry stocked and the SNACK! (Summer Nutritional Assistance for Chatham Kids) program in full force.
“People don’t realize during the summer when everybody is thinking of traveling and having fun that there is a large portion of the population that can’t even think about taking a vacation. They’re worried about where their next meal is coming from,” Budd explained.
Budd says CORA will need more than 230 tons of food to meet rising demand in 2015. She expects the food pantry will need about 100 tons of that donated from the community.
Founded in 1989 with the sole mission of providing emergency food to those in need, the CORA Food Pantry provides emergency food to Chatham County individuals and families who are thrust into a crisis because of job loss, illness, loss of home, loss of breadwinner or other hardship. Open five days a week, Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Food Pantry provides clients with a week’s worth of groceries up to six times in a 12-month period. These weekly food allotments are selected to provide 21 nutritious meals for each family member.
CORA also has two nutrition programs specifically for children: SNACK!, which helps provide food to disadvantaged school children during summer, and the Backpack Support Program, which provides food to those children during weekends and holidays.