Weaver Street Market in Hillsborough began a fundraiser with Orange County Schools at the end of this past summer to help feed children over the holiday season who are on free and reduced lunch plans.
The fundraiser uses a “round up” system where Weaver Street customers can choose to round up their bills to the next highest whole number. The extra change paid by customers goes straight to the Orange County Schools fundraiser.
Seth Stephens, chief communications director for Orange County Schools, said he remembers seeing food insecurity when he was a teacher.
“I remember the day when I first realized that I had a good number of kids in each of my classes that didn’t get fed unless they were in school," he said. "My story is not unique."
Jane McIver, a retired teacher and current part-time ESL teacher at Central Elementary School in Hillsborough, said many families at Central create their household budget knowing the children will receive breakfast and lunch at school.
When they are home over break extra money has to be spent on meals, which poses a problem for many families, she said.
"Poverty and food insecurity are on the rise, not just here but throughout all areas and regions in the nation,” Stephens said. “There are so many students that do not eat unless they are actually in school.”
Brenda Camp, owner services manager at Weaver Street Market, said 100 percent of the money raised goes toward purchasing food.
“We’re currently identifying the food that will go out," she said. "It’ll be boxes of food that the kids get in December.”
Camp said the fundraiser been extremely successful and Weaver Street customers have been more than happy to round up their checks.
Weaver Street is close to reaching their goal of raising enough to feed 1,100 kids.
“The campaign seems to be well received by the community," Stephens said. “There has been nothing but overwhelmingly positive community support for this.”
Orange County Schools and Weaver Street have collaborated to start a free field trip program with Central Elementary School. On the trips students taste-test cookies, give feedback on flavored water and make bread.
McIver said Weaver Street really wants to build a relationship with students at Central Elementary by providing field trips to their production facility.
Additionally, the students use engineering, fractions and other practical skills on the field trip.
“The opportunity for kids to see not only food production on that scale, but to integrate it with science, technology and math — that experiential learning really has positive impact,” Stephens said.