With over 100,000 local children that do not get enough to eat each day, this year United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) focused on a series of idea generating challenges, and creative volunteer and engagement activities surrounding childhood hunger from May to September.
May – Launching the Challenge
Following the entrepreneurial business start-up format, we created the Social Innovation Challenge –100,000 Kids Hungry No More. The winner of the challenge and the $50,000 award was Child Nutrition Services of Durham Public Schools. Their new ways to deliver universal breakfast to students will directly impact 2,500 children this year. Their plan anticipates that number will grow to 25,000 within three years.
June –Mobilizing Volunteers
Seventy-five volunteers from local businesses, community organizations and dedicated citizens joined forces for a Day of Action to create 1000 weekend meal kits for hungry elementary school children. Two-hundred and fifty children at four Durham Public Elementary schools—CC Spaulding Elementary, WG Pearson Elementary, Club Blvd Elementary, and Watts Elementary—received these kits for four weeks.
“The 1000 meal kits are actually 7000 individual meals because each one will feed a child for the entire weekend—3 dinners, two breakfasts, and two lunches,” said Mack Koonce, president and CEO of UWGT. We also added a new book and literacy kits into 650 of the packages to encourage summer reading.”
July –Engaging our Neighbors
On the second Wednesday of every month, UWGT hosts a Food Truck Rodeo near our offices in Morrisville. The event has become a favorite for the businesses that share the office park with us. Not only is it an opportunity to have a delicious lunch from one of the rotating cast of vendors, but also a time to share information about hunger in our area and recruit volunteers for upcoming events. Each food truck makes a donation to United Way to participate in the Rodeo. So far this year, the food trucks have supported UWGT in providing 925 meals for the community.
August—Partnering with Business
Many of our business partners are equally as engaged in the fight to end childhood hunger and have asked us to develop special volunteer events for their companies where they can help us have an impact in the community. This year GlaxoSmithKline, EY, Syngenta, Novella, and RTI have all held special food related events and together created 52,820 meals that were then donated to local food agencies such as the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle or the Food Bank of Eastern and Central NC.
September—Collecting and Building with Food
All summer long companies such as PCL Civil Construction, Coastal Federal Credit Union, and Bank of America collected non-perishable food as part of the annual Collect. Create. Feed. food drive and build event. Companies constructed sculptures from the food they collected on the theme of “Harvest of North Carolina” at Triangle Town Center Mall. This year the drive has collected over 8,700 pounds of food that was donated to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and will create over 7,300 meals.
The Community Impact department at United Way continues to focus on the important issue of childhood hunger. A Hunger Work Group has been created to build on the partnerships and collaborations that were developed during the Social Innovation Challenge and explore additional partners relating to food security and the overall food system. One of the Task Force goals is to make sure that hunger is a key part of our work related to immediate and basic needs but also as we develop long-term solutions.