Chapel Hill and Carrboro Launch Summer Lunch Program

During the school year, many families count on a school lunch (and maybe breakfast too) to feed their children. But in the summer time, that meal is no longer there, and that can put extra strain on families.

This summer, Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools is teaming up with local non-profits to provide free lunches to kids.

The program will run from June 13 to August 12 and aims to feed over 1,600 students.

Over 3,000 students in the CHCCS system are on free or reduced lunch.

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said this program is particularly needed this year because of the lack of summer school.

“There’s very little summer school going on, only for grades one through three this year and only for three weeks,” said Hemminger. “This is the longest summer we are going to probably ever have because of the state calendar and the way that it’s mandated, it’s a very long summer.”

The meals will be prepared at McDougle Middle School and be will distributed at 20 different sites in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

No Child Hungry NC, TABLE and Varsity Church of Chapel Hill will also assist with the program. In past years, these organizations have been providing meals to children over the summer. Hemminger said this program will be a collective effort.

“We are excited all of these groups are at the table working together, the state is there helping to figure it out because the funding is there to produce the food,” said Hemminger.

The program is in need of volunteers to help distribute meals throughout the summer. Most volunteers are needed between 11 am and 1 pm.

“We have wonderful community members here who make good things happen and just pulling everyone together to make things happen is the goal,” said Hemminger.

For more information or to volunteer visit

“Not So Normal” Race Draws 1100

About 1100 runners hit the streets of Carrboro on a beautiful Sunday morning for the Not So Normal 5K, the culmination of a weekend of events that benefited dozens of local nonprofits.

Listen to the story, with sound recorded live at the start/finish line.


The race began and ended at 300 East Main Street. In addition to the 5K, there was also a 10K and a half-marathon (the first half-marathon in Carrboro’s history, according to organizers).

Jay Radford heads up the “Not So Normal” festivities: formerly best known as the dad behind the “Mom in Chapel Hill” blog, he created the project last year as a way to stay active in the community and promote philanthropy. The first Not So Normal race was last fall, with a little more than 400 runners; this year’s race drew nearly three times that many and raised at least $31,000 (at last count) for dozens of charities. (Radford says he’s hoping for a total draw of $50,000 when all the funds are counted.)

Jay Radford addresses the runners before the Not So Normal 5K. (Photo by Aaron Keck.)

Jay Radford addresses the runners before the Not So Normal 5K. (Photo by Aaron Keck.)

Primary beneficiaries are the ArtsCenter, PTA Thrift Shop, and Super Cooper’s Little Red Wagon Foundation; organizers also solicited food and book donations for PORCH, TABLE, and Book Harvest.

Not So Normal 2015 1

In the 300 E. Main parking lot, more than a thousand runners warm up together before the Not So Normal 5K.

In the 300 E. Main parking lot, more than a thousand runners warm up together before the Not So Normal 5K.

A colorfully decked-out motorcycle awaited some runners at the end of the Not So Normal 5K. (Photo by Aaron Keck.)

A colorfully decked-out motorcycle awaited some runners at the end of the Not So Normal 5K. (Photo by Aaron Keck.)

This May, A Race That’s “Not So Normal”

Jay Radford with his son Sam.

It’s back: the Not So Normal 5K, a now-annual local tradition that features not just one 5K run but an entire weekend of events around town – and raises funds not just for one good cause, but dozens.

Organized last year by Jay Radford (hitherto best known as the dad behind the “Mom in Chapel Hill” blog), the inaugural Not So Normal 5K generated a lot of excitement in town; and Radford says he’s hoping for even more this year.

The race itself will be on Sunday, May 17, beginning at 8 am; there will be a 10K and a half-marathon course in addition to the 5K. But the Not So Normal 5K actually runs all weekend: there also will be a kickoff event on Thursday the 14th, a fashion show on Friday the 15th, pre-race dinners at various locations on Saturday the 16th, and more.

Proceeds from the race will primarily benefit three worthy local causes: the ArtsCenter in Carrboro; the PTA Thrift Shop; and Super Cooper’s Little Red Wagon Foundation. Racers are also asked to bring canned goods and books to donate for PORCH, Table, and Book Harvest – and some of the pre-race events will benefit a wide variety of other organizations too.

Jay Radford spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.

The race will begin and end at 300 East Main Street, with a course that runs through Carrboro. To learn more, to register, and to donate or volunteer, visit

TABLE Expands To Feed More Hungry Children

There will soon be more seats at the table for those children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro who are hungry.

The nonprofit organization TABLE was formed in 2008, with the mission to help feed elementary school children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Nearly seven years later, TABLE Executive Director Ashton Chatham Tippins says their overall mission is the same.

“We provide healthy food for weekends and school holidays, when they don’t have access to their free school meals,” she says. “On Thursday afternoons we’ll deliver a bag filled with healthy non-perishables, local produce, and fresh milk, every week. And then we’ll give them extra food for the holidays, including Christmas coming up, which will help provide them with extra food then.”

Ashton Chatham Tippins spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


In the past, TABLE has only been able to provide service to elementary school children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. But thanks to generous donations, the service is now extending to serve preschool and middle school children in the community. According to Chatham Tippins, “30 percent of elementary school kids are on free-and-reduced lunches in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. It’s 60  percent of preschool kids and 24 percent of middle-school kids.”

And with that significant need, the service will now be providing extra food on weekends and holidays to more than 300 local children.

TABLE has two full-time employees, with one part-time member of the staff, and they rely heavily on volunteers – both to assist on site with different events and to organize donation drives. That leaves many opportunities for the community to help out feeding needy children in our area.

Chatham Tippins says residents can help by “donating food and funds. You can host a food drive in your church, your neighborhood, or business, and collect the food and donate it to TABLE. And we always are in need of funds as well.”

And TABLE has an opening for a paid internship beginning next spring. If you would like to submit an application for the position, e-mail your resume and cover letter to

More information about the entire TABLE organization, as well as a portal for donations, is available here.

PORCH Marks A Million; TABLE Expands

Big news for two local hunger relief agencies – one of which is planning a major expansion, one of which is marking a major milestone.

The local nonprofit PORCH has raised nearly a million dollars for hunger relief since its founding four years ago – and in the next few weeks, they’ll pass that million-dollar mark officially.

On Monday, December 15, PORCH will hold a celebration to mark the milestone at 9:00 a.m. at the St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill. Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle and Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt will be on hand to speak.

PORCH stands for People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Homes. Founded in 2010, the organization raises about $20,000 each month in food and cash donations from about 140 participating neighborhoods in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

People in participating neighborhoods place non-perishable food donations on their porch on PORCH designated food drive days. Then, PORCH volunteers pick up the donations and distribute them to eight local food pantries to help local families living below the poverty line.

Meanwhile: around 60 percent of preschool students and 24 percent of middle school students in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School System receive free or reduced school meals. That’s why TABLE, another local grassroots non-profit, is expanding its services beyond just elementary school students. Now it will include preschool and middle school children as well.

TABLE provides healthy food to hungry students that are too young to provide for themselves. After its founding in 2008 that served 12 children, TABLE served 277 children this summer and is continuing to expand.

September Fundraiser/Concert Is “Not So Normal”

It’s being billed as “a celebration of community and philanthropy” – and it’s hitting Chapel Hill on the weekend of September 12-14.

It’s the “Not So Normal 5K.” Organized by Jay Radford – a dad who writes the “Mom in Chapel Hill” blog – the event is ‘not so normal’ because it will benefit not just one, but dozens of local charities. Proceeds from the 5K on Sunday, September 14 will benefit the Carrboro ArtsCenter and the NC Children’s Hospital; participants are encouraged to bring book donations for Book Harvest or food donations for TABLE and PORCH – and participants are also encouraged to form teams and solicit sponsors to raise funds for any non-profit in the area. (“Run for what moves you,” says Radford.)

And in keeping with the ‘not so normal’ vibe, the event is not just a 5K – it actually spans the entire weekend, from Friday through Sunday, with comedy shows at DSI Comedy Theater, a Pajama Party at the ArtsCenter, a movie on the lawn at Weaver Street Market, pre-race dinners at restaurants across Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and more.

The weekend culminates with an outdoor concert Sunday night at University Mall, headlined by rising country star Frankie Ballard (whose single “Helluva Life” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart earlier this year) and featuring Nashville-based performers Casey Jamerson and Stereosparks as well as local kids’ entertainers The BuzzTown Band. The concert is being presented by WQDR radio, 94.7 FM – so tickets to the show cost just $9.47.

Organizer Jay Radford spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck on “Aaron in the Afternoon.”

Aaron also spoke with the concert headliner, Frankie Ballard…

…as well as Casey Jamerson, who performed on Broadway and in Australia before starting her Nashville career…

…and Storey Condos, the lead singer of Stereosparks.

For a complete schedule of events and ticket information, visit

This Week, Support The Farmer Foodshare Challenge

This week, volunteers will be out at Triangle-area farmers’ markets to encourage attendees to donate to Farmer Foodshare, a program to provide fresh food for local residents in need.

It’s the sixth annual Farmer Foodshare Challenge, and it’s been ongoing since June 1 at farmers’ markets in Chatham, Orange, Durham and Wake Counties – a total of 17 farmers’ markets in all. The goal is to raise $5000 for the program, which provides funds to a wide variety of local hunger agencies including TABLE, PORCH, and Club Nova. Proceeds will be used to create a winter buying reserve, to enable agencies to keep providing fresh food to needy families all year long.

Farmer Foodshare executive director Gini Bell joined Aaron Keck on the WCHL Afternoon News to discuss the program.

Founded in 2009 at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, Farmer Foodshare now serves more than 20,000 people each year, with the help of local farmers, farmers’ markets, volunteers, businesses and nonprofits. To support this year’s Farmer Foodshare Challenge, visit

TABLE’s 5th Anniversary at Carrboro Farmers Market

Food truck rodeo, games for kids, craft vendors, and local music, you could find it all at TABLE’s 5th Birthday Party! Friends and neighbors gathered at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market to help support hungry children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.