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IFC's FoodFirst looks to the future

Today, FoodFirst is moving ahead with plans to centralize the program’s location on 110 W. Main St. in Carrboro.

The idea for FoodFirst came in 2003 when the IFC and community leaders met to address homelessness and food services in the area.

A six-month study that followed the conversation resulted in guiding principles, one that was to create a comprehensive service center to consolidate food services, and another that was to offer more services to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness — ending with the creation of FoodFirst.

Now, the IFC and local leaders hope to make good on that promise by creating a new building where its current food pantry stands on 110 W. Main St. to accommodate the additional community food kitchen services being offered at the IFC’s 100 W. Rosemary St. location.

“I think that by having a central location we will have more people able to access the food pantry,” said Michael Reinke, the executive director of the IFC.

According to Reinke, an IFC commissioned poll of the county’s population of non-student, poor homes revealed that 64 percent of the non-student poor population live within one mile of 110 W. Main St.

“The other thing is that if we design the building correctly, we will be able to help people in other areas, and get food out to areas where people aren’t currently serving,” Reinke said.

On March 23, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen approved a land ordinance that would allow social organizations to provide food services to the community.

But the IFC still needs approval of its construction plans on the 110 W. Main St. site and, factoring in construction, the building is probably still another two to three years away from reality.

But community support for the building is strong.

Mayor Pam Hemminger said this is a move forward.

“IFC has its own fundraising system, they may or might not ask us for funding, but I could see the town being supportive of that,” she said.

The mayor is launching a program this summer called Food for Kids Over the Summer, where food is provided to the 3,473 pre-K through high school students who receive free lunches during the school year.

Chapel Hill Town Council member Nancy Oates believes the programs go hand in hand.

“There are families who don’t have the same stability that I had, and families don’t always have the resources to feed their kids,” Oates said. “These programs will go a long way in helping those kids.”

Both programs will go to relieve the Orange County residents who live in poverty, who make up 17.8 percent of the population and the 5,880 food insecure children in the area.


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