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Business owner proposes to end hunger in half of a decade

Ruffin Slater, the general manager of Hillsborough's Weaver Street Market, has challenged the local government and businesses to eliminate world hunger in the next five years.

After floating the idea in a board meeting with the Inter-Faith Council and other local businesses — all of which, he said, were enthusiastic about the ambitious perspective he offered. 

Slater then sent a letter outlining his vision to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen. In the letter, he discusses the three keys to ending hunger in Orange County.

"We need a comprehensive approach," Slater said in an email to the Board of Aldermen. 

He said the first key is to have multiple approaches, outlets and locations. The second, he said, is an innovative approach to scale up methods to reach more people.

And the third key, according to Slater, is to have a common support infrastructure, including a centralized warehouse and kitchen.

"I think we're talking about a pretty audacious goal, which is a great thing to be talking about," Slater said.

"… Orange County is the wealthiest county in North Carolina. There's no reason why people have to be hungry in our community." 

Board of Aldermen member Sammy Slade responded to the letter, commending Slater's efforts, but expressing some concerns for the plan.

"I think it’s a good plan and a good idea. I just had a concern about its timing given the reality it's coming in a time when we are actively concerning the IFC's community kitchen proposal," Slade said. 

"I think the idea is a good one and it would make sense to have a house for all the food provisions, whether it be the facility the IFC is proposing or another location."

Michael Reinke, executive director of the IFC, said the plan was to combine the IFC's Community Kitchen on 100 W. Rosemary St. with a food pantry.

"We had to survey our people going into the community kitchen," Reinke said. "Of the people going into the kitchen, more than half were not using the food pantry because it was logistically too difficult to go from the kitchen to the pantry. So, if we have it in one place we could help people get food."

Though the IFC would like to go through with this proposal first, Reinke said he wanted to work with Slater and other local businesses.

"It’s a conversation we can engage in with Weaver Street Market," Reinke said. 

"One of the things we've been engaged in a conversation with Ruffin is how, working together, we think all of us can end hunger in Orange County."


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