Before the start of the pandemic in early 2020, the food insecurity rate had steadily declined. But those improvements have been upended by the ongoing crisis. Feeding America predicts that 42 million people, including 13 million children, will face hunger in 2021. One educator has embarked on a mission to protect students from food insecurity at a time when they need it the most. Earlier this month, this inspirational teacher spent over $100k to make sure her students could eat over winter break. Here’s the story!
Food insecurity in America
According to Feeding America, “in 2019, the overall food insecurity rate was the lowest it had been in more than twenty years.” Even with these improvements, though, more than 35 million Americans, including 11 million children, were food insecure, with Black and Latino families being hit the hardest.
Many households who need it most do not qualify for federal nutrition programs and visit their local food banks and other food programs for extra support. Even school breakfast and lunch programs designed to support at-risk students have been struggling, and without these meals, millions of kids go hungry. One amazing teacher saw this need and decided to do something about it.
The Bull City Foodraiser
When Turquoise Parker found out a family would have no food to eat during the holidays, she got right to work. The Durham teacher promised that she and her husband, Donald Parker III, would help but immediately came to a realization—if there was one family in need, there had to be others.
The Bull City Foodraiser was born after Parker reached out to her phone contacts. She asked for everything from cans of soup to granola bars. “I need to feed my kids for winter break,” she explained. And that’s exactly what she did. It took just three days to gather enough food for the kids in her classroom. She captured the moment with photos of them all smiling with their bags.
“I was just so happy and grateful knowing that they would be OK and comfortable over the break,” she explained. “But I still wanted to do more.” That was in 2015, and this incredible program is still going.
An annual tradition
Over the years, with the help of local attorney T. Greg Doucette, the Foodraiser has grown more than anyone could have imagined. Doucette, who was in the original group text six years ago, now heads up the fundraising activities while Parker coordinates volunteers to make sure the need is met.
This year, they accomplished a truly remarkable feat. Their massive haul, which benefited 5,103 students, resulted in their local Costco printing its bulkiest receipt ever. How much was the total? A whopping $103,079.70! Incredibly, they purchased every single item with donated funds.
“Costco helps substitute, organize, arrange, personalize, everything we can need or think of to make this process as smooth as possible,” she explained. Meanwhile, Lowe’s, which has been working with the Foodraiser since 2019, “donated an 18 wheeler and a driver to pick up the pallets of food from Costco.” They also “donated a forklift and a driver to unload all the pallets.”
Once everything has been delivered to Mrs. Parker’s school, they form an assembly line to get everything packed into brown paper grocery bags. They work hard, but they have fun “while the dopest tunes are being played. Because working with music is always best!” she says. Before the truck can be loaded, though, they’ve got to do one last thing. Mrs. Parker’s husband, Donald, joyfully sings loud and clear for all to hear!
A greater need
People in every corner of this earth have endured so much over the past two years, and Mrs. Parker definitely saw this within her own community. “The need has always been great and this year became greater because of the pandemic,” she revealed. “The moratoriums on homeless shelters has impacted families who have been evicted because of employment, etc.” That’s why this program is more important than ever — but it wouldn’t be possible without help.
“This is not a me show,” Mrs. Parker insists. “I will never ever take credit for all of this. Yes, this is my idea—my brainchild, I started this. But this is possible because of a whole lot of beautiful people…I will do anything for Mrs. Parkers Professors. But I can’t do everything for them by myself. In our union, we say we are #InThisTogether. That’s word, that’s action, that’s community. That community is what happens every day in our public schools. The community fighting and defending the schools and communities we all deserve.”
Have an inspirational story to share? We want to hear it! Join the discussion in our community of teachers!
Image Source: Today