A new food initiative called Carrboro United has been created to safely feed the community and support the local economy throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

This ‘local food hub’ is considered a one-stop shop to get special meals made and sourced by your hometown favorites.

Carrboro United is providing an opportunity for Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents to pick up fresh produce, quality meats, and prepared meals three times a week. These family-style meals feed up to four people and feature everything from coffee boxes and dessert packs to the classic spaghetti and meatball entrees.

This new service came to fruition after Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order last week, effectively closing dine-in services in restaurants.

Tom Raynor is the former CEO of Fleet Feet and one of the organizers of this initiative. He said this loss of business affects more than just the restaurant itself – it has what he calls a ‘downstream impact.’

“Obviously if people aren’t able to go to restaurants, the restaurant industry is decimated,” Raynor said. “That rolls down to the local providers, the local farmers they do business with, the local truck drivers they do business with and the delivery people they do business with.”

As a result of Cooper’s order, many hourly workers had to be laid off as businesses closed their doors to the general public.

“We’ve got 22,000 people that live in the town of Carrboro,” Raynor said. “We’ve lost 7,000 jobs so far with more to come.”

Raynor said they are trying to combat that staggering loss by hiring some of the displaced workers to help them run the food hub – but this comes at a price.

When you go online to order some nutritious foods from the hub, you may notice the prices for these products may be a little more expensive than you were expecting. Well, Raynor said this is for several good reasons.

“The workers we’ve been able to hire, the displaced workers, are not volunteers,” Raynor said. “They are all being paid a living wage of $22 dollars an hour. The restaurants that are supplying us food are making their mark-up on the meals. So if somebody provides us with a $20-dollar meal, we’re selling that meal for $40 dollars.”

Raynor said all of this is done to invest money back into the economy and into the businesses and people that make up our community.

“They have bills, they have to buy food, they have to pay employees,” Raynor said. “So it’s a socioeconomic, economic and moral reality right now that we have to do the right thing.”

Carrboro United is currently available three days per week on what they call their “hub days” – Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The first hub day was this past Saturday and Raynor said it was successful, selling a whopping total of 1,000 meals.

To order online, visit Carrboro United’s website and place your order by 6 p.m. on the day prior to your chosen hub day. Orders can be picked up day-of anytime between 12 to 4 p.m. at 300 East Main Street in front of Cat’s Cradle.

(Lead photo courtesy of Carrboro United)

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