Food Truck, Mobile Markets, Summer Meals Aim to Fill the Gap
Every week, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS) food truck rolls up to Raleigh's Parrish Manor neighborhood, just like the ice cream trucks of old. Kids stream out of school buses and jump off front porches to meet it--only this truck is distributing free healthy meals, instead of selling popsicles. IFFS's Mobile Meals program is powered, literally, by a brightly decorated food truck (aka Mobile Tastiness Machine), and is one of several ways the hunger relief organization is feeding hungry children this summer.
Over 116,000 children in the 7-county greater Triangle area that IFFS serves applied for the free and reduced lunch program last year, and are at risk of going hungry at some point in their day-to-day lives. When school lets out for summer, those school lunches go away, and the need gets even greater. Couple that with declining financial donations during the summer months, and "you've got a double whammy of need,"says CEO Jill Staton Bullard:
"Children who eat breakfast and lunch at school will need to have those meals at home. The same family budget that provides a good dinner cannot stretch to add two more complete meals for each child in the family. Families who can barely make ends meet during the school year find their budgets breaking when they have to add that extra food to the grocery budget."
So in the summer season, IFFS changes strategies by moving their focus from school pantries and backpack distributions to more mobile market distributions, summer meal deliveries, and increased deliveries to area agencies providing food to families in need:
- On June 10th, participants in IFFS's Culinary job Training Program began preparing 75 healthy lunches 5 days a week during the summer months to feed children at East Durham Children's Initiative in downtown Durham.
- On June 10th, the IFFS Food Truck began delivering free healthy meals weekly to children 18 and under at Chavis Park Community Center on Mondays at 6pm. The delivery is in partnership with Dancing in the Park, an annual exercise and entertainment event organized by Southeast Raleigh Assembly. Planning is underway to add more delivery days.
- Beginning June 17th, IFFS will deliver 40 lunches 5 days a week for children at Full Circles Foundation.
- The IFFS Food Truck delivers free dinners for children to the Parrish Manor neighborhood in Raleigh on Mondays and Wednesdays.
- Over 40 IFFS Mobile Markets overcome the barriers of lack of income and lack of access by bringing food straight to where the need is -- to families in their neighborhoods, at community centers, churches, and health clinics. Mobile Markets are efficient and cost effective: they do not require a permanent building or permanent staff, and markets are held on weekends and evenings when people who are working are more able to access them.
- The IFFS Teaching Farm on Tryon Road in Raleigh grows fresh produce with the help of hundreds of volunteers. While some of the harvested produce is sold at two farm stands (proceeds support IFFS programs), a portion of the produce is donated each week to the Culinary Job Training Program to be prepared into meals for children
"Summer should be a magical time for all children," says Bullard, "exploring the outside world of growing things. We surely do not want the burden of food insecurity, the pain of hunger, to mar the pleasures of summer for any of our children. We need the community's help now more than ever."
To provide a helping hand, a donation, or to learn more please visit www.FoodShuttle.org.
About Inter-Faith Food Shuttle - www.FoodShuttle.org
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is an innovative hunger-relief organization serving seven counties in the Greater Triangle. We believe hunger is fixable if we work together as a community to create access to healthy food in every low-income neighborhood and create opportunities for everyone to earn an income to purchase food. From BackPack Buddies to nutrition education, mobile markets to urban gardens, culinary job training to urban agriculture training, we go directly to people in need and create what works to empower them. We feed. We teach. We grow... To create a hunger-free community.
Contact:Cindy Sink, Director of Communications 919-390-1970 (o) 919-413-1470 (c) Cindy@FoodShuttle.org