The Weaver Street Market in Hillsborough is doing a round-up campaign to raise money for food insecure students to take home food over fall and winter breaks.
WSM’s outreach program director Brenda Camp says the market has been working with hunger relief organizations for three years.
“When we started the partnership we knew that there was a strong need, that one out of four of the kids were probably facing food insecurity. So when we heard the numbers we were expecting that,” says Camp. “I think what we’ve been surprised by is the response from our Weaver Street community in stepping up and saying, ‘We see that this is a severe issue, it’s a local issue and we want to help.’
“We’re all part of the same community and it shouldn’t be happening.”
According to Feeding America, 12.9 million children lived in food-insecure households in America in 2016.
Orange County Schools’ student support services director Sherita Cobb says the demand for food in Orange County continues to grow.
“We work really hard with our community to be able to give students backpacks to carry food home over the weekend,” says Cobb, “but to know that we are now able to because of the partnership with Weaver Street and provide those same children with food over holiday break as well as spring break – that’s awesome.”
Camp says Weaver Street Market will provide the food and help with organization and distribution.
“It won’t really be a backpack – it should end up being a box of about 40 to 45 pounds of food for the two week period,” says Camp.
School social workers will then deliver the boxes to the family’s homes.
Cobb says regularly having food in the home helps students in school in several ways.
“When students are full, or they’re not hungry, they’re able to concentrate when they’re in school,” says Cobb. “You have a child that is more apt to be able to complete their assignments because their mind is not on where my next meal is coming from but (rather) on the lesson that the teacher is teaching…
“And so you have kids that are more confident and prepared for the learning what we’re trying to impart.”
Weaver Street has been using what they call a round-up campaign since last year.
“People just round up their purchase total to the nearest dollar and since we’ve been doing the round-up we’ve raised $191,000 just by people donating their change,” says Camp. “You can (also) just drop off your change into the little cash boxes, or send us a check – but all of the funds go directly to the Orange County Schools through Halloween, and then we’ll switch to raising funds for the food bank.
“But we just take that cash, it goes into a fund for them, and then we’ll use it to buy food at cost…. At this time we’ve raised enough to cover fall and winter break, so we’ll start conversations about what we’re going to do with the other food.”
The food boxes aren’t the only outcome of the partnership between Weaver Street Market and Orange County Schools.
Students from Central Elementary School will now regularly make the short walk over to Weaver Street’s food house for field trips, a trip already made by the third grade class.
“Our bakers and cooks were able to talk about our product development from a math and science perspective,” says Camp. “They got to help us shape pretzels with the new whole wheat dough we’re making, they helped us experiment with a reduced sugar chocolate chip cookie, and they did a tasting panel for happy water – and it was just delightful, they just infused the whole facility with kid energy.
“It was really a good partnership.”