Every week, the Chapel Hill– and Carrboro-based nonprofit TABLE serves over 800 children healthy and nutritious food.
In 2008, TABLE began providing 12 kids with food in the Carrboro area. Since its founding, TABLE has provided about 2.45 million meals.
The expansion of TABLE’s services has brought along the need for a larger space to accommodate the population of children who experience food insecurity in Orange County, according to a press release from the organization.
“Our current space has less than 2,000 square feet and is lacking a lot of the really important features that we need to be able to operate well, like a loading dock or walk-in refrigeration or even parking,” said Ashton Tippins, the executive director of TABLE.
Through its Room to Grow Capital Campaign, TABLE has raised $1.95 million – 60 percent of its $3.25 million goal. The funds already raised allowed TABLE to buy a new building, located at 311 E. Main St. in Carrboro. However, the organization still needs funds to renovate the location before moving.
“We’re not moving just to occupy a bigger, nicer, fancier space," Tippins said. "It truly is the fact that we’re in less than 2,000 square feet, serving 800 kids every week, and it is cramped. And we can’t serve more kids out of our current space and we can’t better serve our kids out of our current space."
Orange County Food Council uses data fromFeeding America to gather data about food insecurity. This data showed that in 2019, 11.4 percent of the children in Orange County were facing food insecurity.
Molly Shivers is the director of conflict transformation ministries for the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and a long-term donor and volunteer at TABLE.
“From the very beginning, TABLE has been about feeding hungry children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro and doing that in partnership with Carolina students and members of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro community,” she said.
Shivers further emphasized the role the UNC community plays in TABLE's work and said students have been volunteering and donating to TABLE since its founding.
“We couldn’t do what we do without the Carolina community and that’s been from day one," she said. "Literally day one of TABLE’s existence."
Damon Seils, the mayor of Carrboro, said he appreciates TABLE’s work to meet the immediate needs of those experiencing food insecurity in Carrboro.
“What I appreciate about TABLE, in particular, is that they’re going beyond simply providing food, but also providing food education, which I think is incredibly important,” he said.
Seils said one of Carrboro's goals is to increase access to food across the town. He said one way the Town is achieving this is by working to combat food insecurity on a systemic level through a partnership with Orange County Food Council.
Ashley Heger, Orange County Food Council coordinator, said the council is looking at the root causes of food insecurity and working to bridge the gap between those communities.
“We need to start figuring out not just how to ask the question of how many children are experiencing food insecurity or how many people are hungry, but thinking about why and how we’re going to address this in a more systemic fashion," Heger said.
Susan Romaine, mayor pro tem of the Carrboro Town Council, echoed Heger's ideas and said systemic racism, poverty and food insecurity are all connected.
TABLE is currently seeking more funds to complete its Room to Grow Capital Campaign. As of Sept. 27, TABLE still needed about $1.3 million. Tippins said donations of any amount are always welcome.
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