CORA is not just a food pantry. It is a force in our community working to restore dignity, health and self-sufficiency through food — with some creativity, fun and laughs thrown in. In spite of all the stories of life’s difficulties, problems, disasters and heartbreak that come through our door, CORA is a happy place. Almost every client leaves with a smile, and those of us who work here, staff and volunteers, are engaged with our community in multiple ways, and committed to creating a better life for our neighbors. Following are some of the ways that CORA is unique, innovative and more than your usual food pantry . . .
CORA Food Pantry is set up like a grocery store, and clients “shop” for their own food with the assistance of a volunteer, selecting food in quantities based on family size. This gives clients a feeling of empowerment and self esteem in a time of great difficulty, engages volunteers more closely with those whom we serve and helps to reduce food waste. (Read more . . . )
CORA purchases foods with lower salt, fat and sugar content whenever available, and we encourage food donors to do the same: fruit in natural juice, whole grain breads and pastas, low sugar cereals, high fiber choices like brown rice, (Read more . . . )
CORA does not turn away usable donations. Most things that we cannot distribute to the public are funneled to other organizations that need them. read more . . .
Client numbers at the Food Pantry increased 26% in three years (from July 1, 2010 to July 30, 2013) from 13,726 individual rations per year to 17,274. In the first six months of the current fiscal year (starting July 1, 2013) client numbers increased a startling 46% above the previous year. (Read more . . . )
According to a Feeding America 2010 survey, “scientific evidence suggests that hungry children are less likely to become productive citizens. A child who is unequipped to learn because of hunger and poverty is more likely to be poor as an adult.” (See http://feedingamerica.org/faces-of-hunger/hunger-101/child-hunger-facts.aspx). CORA supports our county school system and families with programs that help children celebrate special days and programs that help to ensure proper nutrition year-round, increasing each child’s opportunity for optimum development, breaking the cycle of poverty. (Read about our three programs for children . . . )
CORA’s approach is to provide emergency food to those individuals and families who are thrust into crisis because of job loss, underemployment, illness, loss of domicile or other critical or life-changing circumstance. Such circumstances are all too commonplace in Chatham County. Currently, more than 12% of Chatham County citizens live in poverty. Half of the county’s school children rely on the federal school lunch program. Our mission is to provide emergency assistance to these families; that is, we want to give our clients one less thing to worry about — a most important thing –while they piece their lives back together after a hardship. Read More . . .
Many food pantries still keep critical records on pen and paper. CORA enlisted the help of tech savvy volunteers to create a simple but effective excel based program to track client data and to share with other food pantries. Read More . . .