Get to know the newest member of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle staff - Ron Ross!
The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle made a celebratory visit to the North Hills branch in Raleigh recently, showing off its newest vehicle, which First Citizens donated to the organization. Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS) is a hunger-relief organization serving seven counties in and around the Triangle of North Carolina. FCB has had a long-time relationship with the organization. The Food Shuttle’s previous food transportation vehicle was in need of much repair, so First Citizens decided to donate a brand new vehicle, which will assist the agency with its mission to feed the hungry.
On this recent Tuesday, the organization’s newest vehicle zipped across downtown and Midtown Raleigh, rescuing food that would have gone to waste from restaurants and other places like Trader Joes. With refrigerated storage in the back, the new vehicle then transported this food to local nonprofit organizations, making sure it got there in time to serve people in need.
At North Hills, First Citizens associates, along with Food Shuttle staff members and volunteers, got an up-close look at the vehicle. The side panels feature the IFFS logo that includes a large apple. On the back panel, the truck prominently displays First Citizens’ Forever First® commitment to the community. It reads, “For our community. For better lives. Forever First. First Citizens is proud to support Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.” The Bank’s Brand Marketing team coordinated the design of the Forever First message.
Chris Young, Triangle area executive, said the Bank is glad to do its part to help an organization by donating this vehicle.
“First Citizens is a long-time supporter of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and we are pleased that this vehicle is not only helping to build a healthier community but also reflects our Forever First values to the community,” said Chris Young, Triangle Area Executive for First Citizens. “We wanted to ensure our assistance did more than make a one-time impact, so we’re glad that the new shuttle will make a difference for people in the Triangle for many years to come.”
Bob Shertz, a member of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Board Emeritus, thanked First Citizens for its partnership with the organization. He said that in the vehicle’s first year of operation, the new shuttle will recover about 700,000 pounds of food. That’s about $1 million worth of wholesome, good food that would have ended up in a landfill, he calculated.
“We love it when our trucks leave in the morning and return empty,” Shertz said.
For more information on IFFS programs to end hunger, visit www.FoodShuttle.org.
September is Hunger Action Month, and we’re featuring some of our wonderful volunteers who help us in the fight to SQUASH HUNGER every day. Some have even been at it for decades!
After retiring from his field representative position at Equifax, Warren was recruited by a friend who had to be out for surgery and needed a substitute driver on an IFFS food recovery truck. That was October 1992, and Warren has been picking up and delivering food every week since then. Now well into his 80’s and never married, he says,
“You could say Inter-Faith Food Shuttle has been like a family to me.”
He served as a long-time driver, and now acts as a driver’s assistant on the same route he’s covered for so many years (he won’t let his age stop him from continuing to serve and make a difference!) Every Tuesday and Thursday he works the Glenwood Ave. route – going to Harris Teeter, Super Target, BJs, Earth Fare, Golden Corral, Dominoes, and other places, picking up good food that would otherwise go to waste. He then drops off the food at our partner agencies, including the Healing Place for Men. On Fridays, he picks up eggs in Red Oak at the Carolina Egg Company.
Things have really changed since he started here…at first he says, "they were in a basement headquarters on W Johnson Street and had a pick-up truck with a wooden body and a small truck and what was once a sandwich truck." Now IFFS is located in the Vernon Malone Center at 1001 Blair Drive, and runs a fleet of 13 refrigerated trucks across 7 counties!
Why has Warren stuck with the Food Shuttle for so long? He likes that he is "rescuing food that would otherwise be thrown away – using food and getting it to folks that really need it.” He also likes that he gets to meet interesting volunteers of all ages with lots of interesting backgrounds, hobbies, and skills --from chiropractors and lawyers, to engineers and teachers, to those needing second chances.
A WWII veteran, Warren served as a yeoman and spent his first Christmas away at Guantanamo Bay. Since his military service, he’s become a dedicated volunteer at other places in addition to IFFS – serving for 15 years with the American Red Cross, volunteering on Mondays and Wednesdays at Garner Area Ministries, and with the American Legion post 232.
We're proud to call Mr. Warren one of our own, and thankful for his decades of service to ending hunger in our community!
Want to volunteer as a driver or drivers assistant like Warren and help us squash hunger? Sign up here!
September is Hunger Action Month. Learn how volunteers help us SQUASH HUNGER every day. Volunteers Bob and Michelle show how they glean produce that otherwise would have rotted in the field and get it into the hands of our neighbors in need.
We're always looking for groups and individuals to help us glean local farmers fields. The idea is simple. Farmers call us when they have extra crops. We bring a farmer-trained volunteer crew, gather the produce, and distribute it to people in need in our seven-county area. Anyone can volunteer at a Field Gleaning. It's a wonderful way to connect, and you can easily make a big difference for our less fortunate neighbors.
AND, we need volunteers to drive trucks to and from gleanings, and on our daily food rescue and food distribution routes!
Sign up to volunteer today, and help us SQUASH HUNGER!
Reflections from a summer spent gleaning, from our pun-loving Field Gleaning Intern Michelle Madeley This summer, I interned with the Field Gleaning Program at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. I helped out as a field supervisor once a week and spent additional time developing training materials. As a graduate student interested in access to healthy foods, working with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle was an incredible experience in learning about non-profit solutions to systemic societal issues like hunger in the U.S.
Gleaning addresses the twin problems of food insecurity and food waste by working with local farmers who have additional crops (due to extra planting, experimentation, crops being ready too early, or crops not looking "market-ready" but still being nutritious and delicious). IFFS brings crews of volunteers out to the fields that farmers donate and we harvest various crops, always working to fill the truck to the brim!
In one instance, the farmer even drove up on a tractor, disc attached, just as we were wrapping up. He asked if we got all that we needed, and I told him that we were indeed done and thankful for all that he contributed! He said, "Great. I'm going to disc up that field now." By the time we were all packed up, he was already getting started tilling in the onion field from which we had just harvested hundreds of pounds of quality onions. So, it was quite a literal example of gleaning healthy, viable food, that would have otherwise gone to waste (or into the soil) if we had not been there!
Beyond the sheer volume of fresh, healthy food we helped redistribute, I was most excited about the community I felt a part of. The people I met and worked with made the experience of interning with the Food Shuttle so rewarding. I will definitely take these memories and lessons with me, and come back to volunteer with the Food Shuttle as often as possible.
Some of the highlights:
Befriending volunteers.It was especially cool to get to know new people from all age groups. I got to work with groups of middle school volunteers from mission groups, families with kids of all ages, retirees, as well as peers. I feel lucky to have met so many great people!
The big laughs and friendly conversations. I'm way into laughing, and every Tuesday that I was out in the field, there were a lot of serious and silly conversations that generated belly laughs resonating across the rows of collard greens or squash plants.
The team spirit. Every Tuesday, I helped facilitate a gleaning in a new field, with a different crop, and a totally new group of people. We always had the same set of tools, but with the different variables, we approached the fields differently each week. Sometimes, people would pair up and discover more efficient harvesting and loading techniques. Sometimes, people would volunteer to rotate loading and harvesting. People helped remind each other about which row they had been harvesting corn from, or offered to carry heavy buckets. There was always a real sense of teamwork and with that comes new and creative problem-solving.
And even the inevitable challenges. I found myself saying, "Every week there is an adventure" because it was true! We got stuck in the mud! We couldn't figure out how to fill the truck with diesel! We couldn't find the field! We didn't bring the right equipment! We found ourselves in fields that had been flooded and found every step we would sink into mud! As I think about these obstacles, I consider them all reminders about flexibility and adaptability. In the end, none of these challenges stopped us or even really slowed us down. We asked for help or we made do with what we had. It's a great testament to the spirit of volunteers and a can-do attitude. Thanks for everything Michelle! We’re excited to see where your journey will take you next. Come back any time!
Students at area schools are now back for another semester of learning. For some students, returning to school after a winter break may mean a return to more accessible food, and not just through the free and reduced-price lunch program. Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s School Pantry program began during the 2010-2011 academic year with a pilot pantry at Southern High School in Durham. During the 2011-2012 academic year, we expanded to 4 other middle and high schools in Durham: Hillside New Technical High School, Northern High School, Neal Middle School, and Githens Middle School. The pilot program began with a delivery of fresh fruit to the school every other week. Faculty and staff would take the fresh fruit that Inter-Faith Food Shuttle delivered and set it in baskets in high traffic areas for student to pick up, eat, and take home with them – they set the baskets up in the media center, in the front office, or even passed the fruit out at the busses. Students eyes widen with excitement just seeing Chelsea Travis, our School Pantry Program Coordinator, walk in the doors with a big box of fruit. The fruit is available to all students – meaning that lower income students are not singled out when taking what they need.
But all of the schools where we have started school pantries are high need, having over 50% of the student population enrolled in the free-and-reduced lunch program. Many of the schools have between 70-90% enrolled, and often not all eligible students end up actually signing up for the program. The national school lunch program can provide meals for students during the school day, but many go hungry on the evenings and weekends.
With the expanded pantry program, students can not only supplement their daily diet with fresh, nutritious fruit from IFFS, but they can also take home shelf-stable foods and dry goods as well to create full meals at home. Each school operates their pantry a little bit differently, each according to their own students’ needs, the culture of the school, and how the school decided best fits their needs. Each school found an area to house the pantry – be a storage room, a closet, or an old film area in the media center – and put up regulation shelves to store the food. Many of the students served are identified after coming to the school staff asking for assistance, saying that they hadn’t eaten that weekend, that there wasn’t much food around at home right now, they were hungry, was there anything for them to eat there? Other students are identified by school staff, who recommend or approach students that they know have a particular situation that may include them needing food.
Some school counselors would send bags full of food home with students each week for them and their families, while others would actually drive to the students’ houses and deliver the food. Some counselors would have the parents call to sign their children up for the program. Some would even work with students, asking what they and their family like to eat, ensuring that the food would get eaten and not just sit on a shelf in the student’s home instead of on a shelf at the school. The support for these pantries from faculty, staff, and parents is critical to ensuring that they run effectively and to reaching more students in need.
Our BackPack Buddies program provides nutritious weekend meals for elementary school children, but middle and high school students face the same problems of hunger. As students grow older, the stigma of asking for help and of being perceived as “in need” grows as well. Some of the middle school students race down the hall, asking “is that my bag of food?” but stigma of receiving assistance is an issue that often prevents students from receiving the assistance they need, especially in high schools. That’s why IFFS is working with these schools to dismantle stigma and to create a culture where everyone can receive help if they need it.
Southern High School actually has a student health center run through Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES). In the future, we hope the center will be able to give students “prescriptions” for food from the pantry. Many food insecure children and teens are malnourished, lacking in nutrients essential to healthy growth and development. But with a prescription in hand, students may be less reluctant to go to the pantry for assistance if they feel they need the food to improve their health and have “doctors orders” saying so.
Schools are a natural access point for young people to find more food – why not make it available at a place they are already going five days a week? At Neal Middle School this year, we also held two Mobile Markets at parents nights and cultural event nights at the school. Mobile Markets are free distribution sites we can set up anywhere with lots of fresh produce available there in addition to the regular fresh fruit and dry goods offered through the pantry. The food rolls in on our refrigerated trucks, and we set up a market where folks can shop for free. These events not only provided fresh produce and groceries to families in need at a time and place where they could easily access it, but also raised awareness of the pantry program as well.
On average, each pantry served 60-100 students each month, and 100-200 people per month counting others in the students’ households who also benefited from the extra food. While the program is now in the evaluation stage, many of the pantries are already on board to participate next year as well. We hope to continue to expand those numbers in 2013 and continue working towards creating a hunger-free community, because hunger is unacceptable.
To learn more about our Children's Hunger Relief Programs, visit our website.