Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) has partnered with the Food Shuttle for roughly seven years, and become one of our biggest supporters. Here’s a snapshot into their weekly efforts to end hunger in Durham, North Carolina, and the people who make it happen.
Nicole Rogers (above) is the Backpack Buddies Coordinator for Blue Cross NC's Community Relations team. Every other Thursday she organizes a one hour, on-site packing event (below) with 15-20 staff volunteers — volunteer slots that Nicole says fill very quickly.
Three hundred bags are packed at each these volunteer events, every other week. Nicole says she likes to look at these volunteer shifts as “an opportunity for team building.” The packing gives employees a chance to take a break from work and meet new people while also giving back to the community.
Kevin Evans (above) is one of those employees who goes above and beyond to help out. He handles all the food deliveries from the Food Shuttle and according to Nicole, has become the backbone of the program. “He keeps this thing running. He’s precise, and very organized,” says Nicole.
Kevin loves working with the Food Shuttle and Backpack Buddies, “It’s good for the kids. Good food is good for us and good for them. It makes them happy.”
The three hundred packed bags are enough for two weeks of deliveries to partner organizations, The John Avery Boys and Girls Club and Y.E. Smith Elementary School.
This part of the operation couldn't happen without Steve Bittle (below). He's one of the delivery men for Blue Cross NC's Backpack Buddies program. Every Friday, he takes bins of 150 packed bags from the facility and loads them into a van, drives to both locations, and unpacks the bags in the buildings.
Angela Barnes, social worker at Y.E. Smith Elementary, says the school has been receiving Backpack Buddies for “as long as she’s been here; at least six years.” The school is 100% on free and reduced breakfast and lunch, and she says that the students look forward to every delivery.
For the Boys and Girls Club, the Food Shuttle is their largest donation. They receive the bagged food, but instead of giving them out as bags, they unpack the contents and set it up to be a food pantry to allow participants to be more selective with what food they want and need to take home.
Blue Cross NC employee dedication to community engagement, and to the Food Shuttle, makes a real impact on the lives of children around Durham County. We want to thank them for all of the hard work that makes it possible!