Just a few years ago, observant and caring parents in Chatham County noticed that some of their children’s classmates were not getting the food they needed to thrive and grow, and, at nearly every school, they decided to do something about it.
Weekend backpack programs, providing food for weekends and school year breaks, have sprouted all over Chatham County. It’s a wonderful example of grassroots response—people saw a need and acted.
Running a feeding program for one school has it challenges, mostly budgeting challenges. In 2010, CORA decided to share resources and access to food sources. CORA does not run any backpack programs, but supports the programs in Chatham County. CORA has a three-pronged approach to the support of backpack programs.
The largest support is purchasing aid. As a Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina Agency, CORA has access to suppliers offering a greatly reduced rate for items such as milk and juice; CORA makes several bulk purchases a year available to Backpack programs to reduce their costs.
CORA also aids local backpack programs by accepting and holding donations for purchases (bulk and individual purchases), by providing tax receipts for donors and by accounting for those funds. The 501(c) (3) non-profit status is a bit of a hurdle for small programs. By stewarding program funds for individual schools, CORA can provide to those schools the advantages of its 501(c)(3) status. This support from CORA allows backpack programs to focus on feeding children.
The final part of CORA’s support for Chatham backpack programs is funding for newly organized or financially overwhelmed local programs. CORA sets aside a portion of its funds and seeks grant funding to aid Backpack Programs in fulfilling their mission.
CORA does not select participants or food, and no federally funded food is used for backpack programs.
Schools currently being supported by CORA’s Backpack Program: North Chatham Elementary, Siler City Elementary, Virginia Cross Elementary, Pittsboro Elementary, Margaret Pollard Middle School, Bonlee Elementary, Perry Harrison Elementary, Horton Middle School, Northwood High School, J.S. Waters School, and Chatham Central High School.