hunger

April/May Newsletter: Doing the Impossible

Jill writes her thanks to IFFS volunteers, new data from Feeding America, Q&A with ED Dave Koch, new classroom dedicated, Recipe of the Month...and more!

25 Years of Feeding the Triangle

The following is a message from our Executive Director and Co-Founder, Jill Staton Bullard: 2014 marks our 25th year of feeding the Triangle, and I have been doing a lot of reflecting on how this movement started and how wonderful the journey thus far has been.

I had a reason this past month to rummage through 25 years of pictures as we prepared for our Taste of Hope celebration. We’ve come a long way since those early days of recovering food from grocery stores in the back of station wagons.   We truly stand on the shoulders of those early volunteers whose determination and hard work were the only fuel that powered what we did to feed hungry people.  Today, over 6000 volunteers help us recover or grow over 7 million pounds of food each year. It astounds me that we now serve 64,000 people per month throughout our region.

But, folks, the one thing I have learned is that this is simply not enough. Feeding people who are hungry right now is critical, but only by going after the root causes of hunger can we create a hunger-free and healthy community.  So this is the question that haunts me: As a community, how much longer are we going to tolerate 1 in 4 children not knowing where their next meal is coming from? —a fact that has NOT improved over the past 25 years!

Nurturing long term-solutions to poverty and lack of access to fresh healthy food is our mission. 

What can all of us do about it? Get educated. Get involved.  And a great place to start is with our new website.  One of the first things you’ll notice is that all of our programs are organized into “We feed. We  teach . We grow.”  This  illustrates the multiple approaches we are deploying in the community, from nutrition education to urban agriculture to  workforce development to creating economic opportunities.  Learn about hunger in our community on the Hunger Stats pages.  Learn how you can support good policy on our Advocacy page.  Learn about all the ways you can volunteer, and what your donated dollar can do.

Our theme for our 25th year is 25 YEARS OF INNOVATION.  BUILDING A HUNGER-FREE, HEALTHY COMMUNITY.

Are you willing to join our journey? To learn, to try new approaches?  To stand up to the status quo and challenge leadership to make policy that supports the empowerment  and self-sufficiency of poor people? Children’s lives depend on us. Can we really afford to wait another 25 years?

Hunger is unacceptable.  Only when we all determine to work together, can we END IT.

Lettuce all glean! The power of greens, beans, and volunteer machines

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!

Meet Americorps VISTA Yvonne Wagner

It's Americorps week, so each day we're featuring one of the dedicated Americorps members currently serving with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle! Today, meet Yvonne Wagner, an Americorps  VISTA member who is joining us  on March 25th after training in Dallas, and will be primarily responsible for developing a marketing strategy to secure $10 gift cards for Cooking Matters & Cooking Matters at the Store programs, as well as ongoing support for our Cooking Matters satellite partners and expansion of Cooking Matters programming in Communities in Schools locations throughout the state.

What made you decide to become an Americorps Member?

I had friends that had great experiences as AmeriCorps members that made me initially start looking into opportunities. When I found out I could use my business and marketing skills to work on hunger and poverty issues, I was sold.

What are you most excited for regarding your new role at Inter-Faith Food Shuttle? 

I am excited to bring more attention to the issues of hunger and poor nutrition in our country. I am always passionately discussing these things with my friends, so it is a dream to be able to make a real difference and get involved.

What do you like to do when you’re not working to end hunger?

I am always working on ending my own hunger - I love cooking and experimenting with gluten-free and vegan recipes. You can find me at the gym daily. I like Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, barre... you name the class, I'll try it! I can't wait to spend more time biking and walking outdoors after a snowy Minnesota winter. I also like reading, and have my nook on hand at all times. Nothing is better to decompress after a long day.

What’s your favorite movie?

This is a tough one. I love classic films, Oscar winners, and small indie projects. Right now I can't get enough of Beasts of the Southern Wild and Django Unchained, but my long-time favorites are Almost Famous and The Royal Tenenbaums.

What would your last meal be?

I would want my last meal to be a Japanese feast! Edamame, sushi, miso soup, buckwheat soba noodles, and mochi for dessert. Yum.

Food Films for Change

It’s still January, the beginning of a new year, and we’re still thinking about change. While we may make our personal resolutions for self-improvement,  issues  like hunger require  us all to work together toward change, resolved to create a hunger-free community where everyone has enough healthy, nutritious food to eat.  For some food for thought, check out these  recent and upcoming films exploring the interplay of  nutrition,  hunger, and the need for change  in our food system across the state and across the nation:

Health Crisis in Carolina: Real Families. Real Struggles. Real Solutions.

This new documentary, produced by our partner Advocates for Health in Action (AHA), follows three North Carolina families as they learn ways to improve their eating habits and become more physically active. Its release coincides with the release of the NC Plan to Address Obesity in early February. The documentary is scheduled to air on Sunday, February 3rd at 1pm on UNC-TV. You can click this link to view the trailer: http://vimeo.com/55640574 and follow the film on their facebook page.

Soul Food Junkies

This film has already been released -- it first aired on January 14, 2013 on PBS Independent Lens -- but it’s an important one for exploring the issues of food justice. Check out the trailer here. If you missed it, PBS is streaming the documentary free until February 11th. You can watch it online here: http://video.pbs.org/video/2305721338

Description of this film from PBS Independent Lens:

“In Soul Food Junkies, [film director Byron] Hurt sets out on a historical and culinary journey to learn more about the soul food tradition and its relevance to black cultural identity. Through candid interviews with soul food cooks, historians, and scholars, as well as with doctors, family members, and everyday people, the film puts this culinary tradition under the microscope to examine both its positive and negative consequences. Hurt also explores the socioeconomic conditions in predominantly black neighborhoods, where it can be difficult to find healthy options, and meets some pioneers in the emerging food justice movement who are challenging the food industry, encouraging communities to “go back to the land” by creating sustainable and eco-friendly gardens, advocating for healthier options in local supermarkets, supporting local farmers' markets, avoiding highly processed fast foods, and cooking healthier versions of traditional soul food.”

A Place at the Table

Coming March 1st, A Place at the Table is a new documentary film about hunger in America. It addresses the need for continued strong funding of federal nutrition programs, like SNAP (food stamps), which help keep millions of American families from going hungry.

Film description from TakePart.com

“Fifty million people in the U.S.—including one in five children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine the issue of hunger in America through the lens of three people struggling with food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford.

Ultimately, A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides – as they have in the past – that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all.”

Indeed, hunger exists everywhere across America, including in our own backyards. More than 112,000 children receive free or reduced price lunch in the 7 counties Inter-Faith Food Shuttle serves.  What's more, 58 percent of those struggling with hunger across the  nation have incomes above the federal poverty level. Find out how you can help locally at www.foodshuttle.org.

Full Hearts Serving for Full Bellies on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” 

-- Martin Luther King Jr.

This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is hosting several  groups and individuals who are donating their time for a Day of Service. While we host volunteers every day, this Monday, volunteers will arrive with a certain goal in mind: honoring the legacy of one of nation’s greatest leaders and activists. As part of United Way of the Greater Triangle's 8th Annual Triangle Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, they'll be riding on our refrigerated food recovery and distribution trucks, picking up good donated food and bringing into communities where it can get into the hands of those who need it. Others spent Saturday's National Day of Service gleaning collards from local farms to distribute to our neighbors in need. Still more volunteers will be getting their hands dirty on the farm today and packing BackPacks full of nutritious food for children in need. All will be working towards a more just nation where everyone has enough to eat!

On the IFFS Teaching Farm, we will host a group of nineteen 4th and 5th graders from First Presbyterian church, who will be spending their first Day of Service of Martin Luther King Jr., Day learning about where their food comes from and helping us produce fresh, local, nutritious food for the community.

The IFFS BackPack Buddies program will also be teaming up with Marbles Kid’s Museum again for a special service event from 10am-1pm. Children and adults who are visiting the museum that day can participate by packing backpacks full of healthy and nutritious item to feed children in need on the weekends.

gleaning day of service

"I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for the minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits."

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Find out more about volunteering with us on our website here, and carry your commitment to service throughout the year!

Meet a Hunger Fighter- Stephani Hutchinson!

Busy dicing onions at a different volunteer organization, Stephani still had time to pick-up her phone and answer a few questions for us about her volunteer time at the Food Shuttle! Our dedicated volunteers are always willing to offer a helping hand no matter where they are. Read below to learn about Stephani's volunteer work at the Food Shuttle: Who: Stephani Hutchinson

What: food rescue driver for Inter-Faith Food Shuttle- goes out on routes to 10 different markets and distributes food to 3 different low-income housing sites in North Raleigh

When: every Tuesday and Thursday

How long she has been a hunger fighter:  4 years!

Why:  She learned about Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in the newspaper. Since she was recently retired, she wanted to help!

I love [fighting hunger].  Feeding people is a way to help in the community.  I feel very fortunate to work with people at IFFS; everyone is wonderful!”

A special thanks to Stephani for driving hunger from the community every week! Our volunteers keep the Food Shuttle truckin'- sign up to become a volunteer like Stephani by clicking here.