Durham Food Bank helps to eliminate hunger

Food Bank workers say there has been an increase in the demand for food in recent years. (Staff photo by Jessica Seaman)

The Durham branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that feeds their community by partnering with 173 agencies in the Durham service area providing meals, shelter, clothing, and creating programs to educate youth.

“Durham Rescue Mission is one of the food bank biggest partners,” said Jennifer Caslin, Marketing, Public and Branch Relations Coordinator. The food bank also partners with N. C. Central University putting a food pantry on their campus. The food bank also partners with programs such as the Salvation Army, Feed My Sheep.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina was started in 1980 and slowly emerged throughout the state with the Durham branch opening in 1999. In 2014 the food bank moved to its new location at 2700 Angier Ave. in East Durham.

Since being in the new location the food bank has benefitted from about 30,000 hours of community service from volunteers. Caslin said that’s a 50 percent increase. In the last year the Durham branch food bank has distributed over a 7.6 million pounds of food. It has delivered 75 million pounds of food since it opened.

Mostly children and seniors benefit from the food bank, which feeds roughly 31,000 children and 6,500 seniors in the Durham area alone. The mission of the food bank is no one goes hungry in Central and Eastern North Carolina.

According to their website the goal for 2015-2016 fiscal year is to raise 9.2 million in revenue. This income would allow the food bank to expand their services and feed more people throughout the state.

“Fifty percent of the food we provide now is produce, unlike the past tradition of providing canned and boxed goods,” said Caslin.

The food bank receives donations from a lot of businesses in the area such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Walmart, Harris Teeter, Kroger, and Food Lion. These companies provide meat that hasn’t expired and fruits and vegetables to feed the community.

In 2014, Walmart donated Walmart donated 51.6 million to North Carolina organizations including the food bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Food Lion was a big donater in 2014 by donating 100 million meals and plans to donate 500 million meals by year 2020.

The Kids Café is one of the programs that the Durham branch food bank offers to the community. This program offers children that are at risk of being hungry the chance to receive tutoring, mentoring, and a meal. It operates in 32 sites in 25 counties serving about 1600 hundred children.

The food bank is certainly an example of a community leader thriving in East Durham. The Central and Eastern food bank has been fighting hunger for thirty-five years and still creating more ways to expand their services. The organization continues to try to complete its ultimate goal of no one going hungry in central and eastern North Carolina.