When she started the Chapel Hill Carrboro Foodies Facebook group, founder Carrie Brogren said she had no idea that it would have the impact it has had on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community.
In late March, one member of the group, Joan Moon Duffield said she made a post asking if anyone in the group could help provide 75 sandwiches to the emergency department at UNC Hospitals. Within an hour, she said she posted that the sandwiches had arrived, and such charity caught on among other members of the group.
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“I was sitting one evening and I was contemplating, I mean I watch CNN a great bit, and I was just seeing the stories of restaurants just shutting down and hospital workers just working to the bone, and I was thinking just how, what can we do to support both sides of the coin?” Duffield said. “And so it was very instantaneous.”
Following Duffield’s contributions to UNC Hospitals, other members of the Facebook group started making similar donations, and when the hospital stopped accepting visitors, a week after Duffield’s original donation, the group changed their focus to local charities.
“It was actually suggested to us by the hospital that we start focusing our efforts on some local charities because they had actually been seeing a decline in their food donations,” Brogren said. “So we immediately organized — I organized — a partnership with the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service. They have three groups: they have a men’s homeless shelter called Community House, they have a women’s and children’s emergency shelter called HomeStart and then they also have a Community Kitchen which feeds locals in our community.”
Later, Brogren forged a partnership with the Ronald McDonald House in Chapel Hill. Members of the Facebook group can sign up online to donate to either charity.
“I have a calendar set up within the foodie group, and a member can go in and sign up for any particular day that they would like to provide meals, and they choose which charity and which group in that charity that they would like to help," Brogren said. "And then they choose a local restaurant, arrange for the meals, pay for the meals and then the restaurant delivers the meals to the charity."
Jackie Jenks, executive director of IFC, said the donations coming from the Facebook group have been helpful in the face of decreased food donations and volunteers during the pandemic.
“It’s been helpful for our staff, who often have to find donations and then make a meal out of donations,” she said. “And because our donations and our meal groups have gone down during this time because people have to stay in, it’s been helpful to have the foodies group and other groups purchasing meals directly and having those meals delivered.”
While neither Brogren nor Duffield expected the movement to grow the way it has, they are both very grateful for the support their group has shown.
“I was absolutely shocked, but I was thrilled because I think that the community we live in is very caring and very proactive, and very aware of people’s social circumstances,” Duffield said. “But I was shocked, and I was just so happy because now we can all sign up and food goes to places that need it the most."
Duffield said she hopes that this will encourage people to keep making donations and supporting the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community.
“My mother had a very simple quote that I really grew up with and that I really try to live by, and her mantra was ‘If you had the ability to help, why wouldn’t you?’ and so that’s what I do,” she said.
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