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PORCH welcomes the opportunity to partner with local businesses in this community-wide hunger relief effort.

Helping Hickory's Hungry Is As Easy As Placing A Can Of Food On Your PORCH.
Grassroots Food Collection Program To Kick Off.

Hickory Porch Food Collection Left to right:
Jennifer Graham, Shauna O'Brien,
Allen Finley, Peggy Shuford,
Blair Tate, Roger Baker;
CCM Director, Pope Shuford





 




The number of hungry families in Hickory and Catawba County is growing. Now a new grass roots relief organization is bringing families additional assistance by using a food donation method as simple as its name. PORCH (People Offering Relief from Community Hunger) is a non-profit food assistance program designed to help those that are not fully served by existing relief organizations.

According to information provided by the Catawba County Department Of Social Services, between 2000 and 2012 Catawba County saw a 485% increase, from 4,956 to 28,970, in food assistance recipients. Even more alarming is the fact that 44.6% of those individuals are 20 years old or younger. There are schools in our area where more than 95% of the children are on some type of food assistance program.

Peggy Shuford and Elaine Young became aware of this growing problem through discussions with various school teachers as well as meetings with individuals at the Department Of Social Services. "Hickory is a caring community" , said Peggy Shuford, and " We felt that if the citizens of Hickory were more aware of the need, they would support a community-wide relief effort". Ultimately a number of concerned citizens have come together to launch this program called PORCH. PORCH is a neighbor to neighbor effort that essentially asks people to put one can of food on the PORCH one day in the month.

"It is important that people know that we have been careful not to duplicate existing food relief agencies", commented Elaine Young. " Discussions were held with the Department Of Social Services, 2nd Harvest, the Salvation Army, Cooperative Christian Ministry and others that are involved in food assistance. From these discussions we learned firsthand that there are a lot of dedicated people who are already doing a tremendous amount of work addressing our hunger problem. Even with all the current efforts in place, we determined there was a need for a steady, new source of food. We also realized that anything that could be done to raise awareness of hunger in our community would be a positive step."

Each month PORCH neighborhood coordinators let their neighbors know of the designated pick up date, so donors can place their food donations on their porches. The neighborhood coordinator then picks up and delivers these donations to the Cooperative Christian Ministry or some other designated food center. There the food is sorted and later distributed to people in need throughout the community.

PORCH was originally started by three women in Chapel Hill, NC in May of 2010 and was featured in the November 2010 issue of Redbook magazine. Since then, new PORCH programs like the Hickory organization have sprung up around the state.


PORCH program celebrates its first year

Mary Canrobert Correspondent
Posted: Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013

Hickory residents Peggy Shuford and Elaine Young are proud to announce that Hickory’s PORCH program, a means to assist families suffering from food insecurity, will celebrate its first year anniversary in November.

The two women founded Hickory’s version of PORCH, and both couldn’t be more pleased with its success.

The original PORCH (People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Homes) is an all-volunteer, community hunger relief organization founded in 2010 by three Chapel Hill women.

Shuford heard about PORCH while discussing the crisis of hunger in North Carolina with friends from the eastern part of the state. Shuford then shared what she’d learned with her husband, Pope Shuford, and their friends, Charles and Elaine Young. Both the Shufords and the Youngs have been community volunteers for years.

Peggy Shuford and Elaine Young are moms and grandmoms and were unable to stand by, knowing that Hickory children were going without food. The women resolved to lead a crusade against hunger by getting PORCH started in the Hickory area. Both were certain Hickory, described by Shuford as “a caring community,” would respond to the call to help feed its less fortunate residents.

They and their fellow PORCH volunteers decided that Hickory’s PORCH would stand for People Offering Relief from Community Hunger.

At specified times, residents leave canned food on their front porches. Volunteers collect the cans and take them to PORCH’s warehouse on the grounds of Shurtape Technologies, which donated the space. More volunteers sort and bag the food, adding supplemental items, such as powdered milk and cereal purchased with donated funds.

PORCH workers take the bags to three pickup locations: Longview Elementary School, Viewmont Elementary School, and Morning Star First Baptist Church. Families who’ve received vouchers through their children’s schools arrive at one of the three locations and collect their bags.

Working with Angela Simmons, director of student services for Hickory Public Schools, PORCH finds the families that need its service most. Simmons spreads the word about PORCH, and HPS school counselors, in cooperation with classroom teachers, identify children who may need PORCH food and discreetly offer vouchers to the children’s families.

“Every day is so hard to get through,” said Shuford, talking about children who go hungry. “We want to provide food for the children so they can go to school and learn because they have a full tummy.”

Nearly one year later, Hickory has proven how caring it can be. PORCH has 60 volunteers who collect cans of food from the front porches of 500 participating residents; 14 volunteers who sort and bag the food; an executive director, Shauna O’Brien; a warehouse; and two awards: the City of Hickory 2013 Human Relations Award and the Hickory City Council’s Extra Mile Day recognition.

The women accepted the Human Relations Award in May and the Extra Mile Day recognition on Oct. 15.

Shuford, Young and the volunteers and can contributors have gone the extra mile since PORCH’s activation in November 2012. Nearly 20,000 cans of food have gone to families.

Young was excited to share that PORCH now has nonprofit status, meaning the IRS identifies it as a charitable organization to which donors can contribute tax-deductible funds. Young suggested that contributors consider donating money to PORCH in honor or memory of loved ones at Christmas. Young said PORCH will send a nicely designed card to the person being remembered or to the family of the deceased.

Young said she and her husband distribute bags at Longview Elementary.

“Families pull up in cars filled with children,” Young said. “The children get out of the cars and come up with smiles on their faces. The gratitude of the families warms my heart.”

Young said she felt the PORCH volunteers were “building relationships with the families. They recognize us and we recognize them. We see the same people each time.”

“They trust us to be there,” Young said.

“And we trust that our community will continue to support PORCH,” said Shuford.


Mary Canrobert is a freelance writer.
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Email her at marycanrobert@charter.net.