Meet the new face of BackPack Buddies


My name is Julie Cox and I am the new Child Hunger Programs Manager for the Food Shuttle.

Together with Child Hunger Programs Supervisor Amber Simmons and Driver Matthew Kershaw, we are the Child Hunger team. Amber is amazing with volunteers and about 99% of my brain here as I transition into this new role. I’m looking forward to working with you all, and want to start by saying: “Thank you so much for your generous support over the years!”

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with IFFS for the past few years while serving as the President of a foundation at Wiley Elementary School in Raleigh. That program raises funds to provide BackPack Buddies and other emergency needs to students in crisis. During that time, I had the opportunity to work with Kyle Abrams, the former Child Hunger Programs Manager. With his and other parents’ assistance, I also helped start a BackPack Buddies program at Raleigh’s Ligon GT Magnet Middle School and worked to facilitate access for students at these schools to Enloe High School’s Pantry.

Having two children in public schools and volunteering in their classrooms, I have witnessed what it means to have hungry children in a classroom. Working with school social workers, teachers and other administrators I have come to understand the deep level of need among so many of the students and the systemic consequences of food stress. If even one child is hungry, everyone is affected:

  • For the student who’s hungry, it’s difficult to concentrate on schoolwork, follow directions and get along with classmates.
  • Other students find that behavior disruptive, making the classroom experience difficult.
  • Teachers trying to overcome all these issues and create a positive learning environment also spend their own money to help feed students in need.

It’s important that children know people care about them and are invested in their future. Particularly the 118,000 children in our seven counties who applied for free/reduced-price school meals.

With your ongoing support we will be able to provide those experiencing food stress with a most basic need. Thanks to you and our sponsors, our BackPack Buddies, School Pantries, and other child hunger programs are able to help make a real difference towards eradicating childhood hunger:

  • When this school year ends, IFFS will have delivered 74,888 BackPacks to 2,024 children at 67 sites.
  • Last summer, 2,607 children received fresh produce, meals, and snacks through school pantries, our commercial kitchen, and our food truck. And we're gearing up for another summer of feeding Triangle kids.
  • Currently, we help stock 13 school pantries with a variety of healthy fresh and shelf-stable foods.
  • Over time, we are growing healthy habits and “food IQ” through Cooking Matters classes for kids and families.

I invite each and every one of you to mark your calendar for July 13th!

This is the day of WRAL’s BackPack Buddies Mediathon to End Childhood Hunger: an all-day event on WRAL-TV & MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM benefiting our crucial services. We hope you will tune in, donate, and maybe even volunteer to answer phones (on TV!).

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Until July 13th, I look forward to getting to know as many donors, volunteers, and supporters as I can. By growing our relationships, we can continue serving the school children of the Greater Triangle and reach even more!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns,

Julie Cox 919-390-1957