The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday January 16th

PORCH helps eliminate local food insecurity

A nutritional diet often becomes sidelined when families' primary concern is putting food on the table.

But over the past two weeks, Weaver Street Market has worked with one of its community partners, People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill Carrboro Homes, to provide fresh produce and eggs to low-income families.

PORCH began in 2010 as a small neighborhood food drive, started in response to the struggling economy, said co-founder Debbie Horwitz.

Since then, PORCH has evolved into a grassroots organization that attempts to eliminate food insecurity at the local level with the support of around 150 neighborhoods, upwards of 300 volunteers and many community business donors.

A campaign asking customers to donate a bag of fresh produce was Weaver Street Market’s first program as a community partner of PORCH and its first program involving the whole co-op. 

“It’s a way for them to give but also to spread their philosophy of local and healthy eating,” Horwitz said regarding the partnership. “Our goals are aligned."

The campaign was aimed to supplement the Food for Families program of PORCH, which works with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools to identify families with young children who are at risk for hunger and provide nonperishables but also put an emphasis on fresh produce. 

“You need decent nutrition, and too often low-income families don’t have access to it," Horwitz said. 

Weaver Street Market set the goal of donating a thousand grocery bags of produce within two weeks.

More than $30,000 in donations in the past two weeks translated to 1,037 bags of fresh produce for families in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, said Brenda Camp, head of owner services at Weaver Street Market.

“People were really receptive. The produce aspect really resonated with people,” Camp said. 

Weaver Street Market has 18,000 co-op members, so it has a large reach and played a big part in getting the word out, she said.

“It's overwhelming. It’s pretty incredible, especially when taking the weather into account,” said Josh Moorhead, manager of the Carrboro store, which contributed approximately half of the donations.

These contributions will provide 10 months of produce for the 100 families involved in Food for Families.

"What I’ve learned is that there are so many generous people in this town,” Horwitz said. 

Weaver Street Market’s outreach will not stop with their partnership with PORCH. It will collaborate with a different organization every quarter to aid in hunger alleviation. The other Community Food Partners programs for this year will include TABLE, the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service and Orange Congregations in Mission.

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