From Forgotten Buffet to Vital Blessing

Steve McCrossan, Executive Director

Did you know that NourishNC owns the old China King buffet on Market Street? It’s true!

This past winter we took out a loan and purchased the 2-acre lot and the crumbling restaurant slouching upon it. You see, our vision to be “anywhere and everywhere” our kids need food is being hindered by our current location. We rent our Greenfield Street warehouse and if you have been there, you know it’s hot, small, run down, and has a go-kart sized parking lot. All of this limits our ability to expand programs, increase efficiency, and serve our kids more effectively.

NourishNC had plans to launch a $1.5 million capital campaign to transform that old buffet into our Forever Home but you know what they say about “the best laid plans.” Right as we were set to launch the capital campaign, COVID-19 struck, the stock market crashed, the schools closed, and everything changed. The campaign has been paused and the future of our Forever Home remains shrouded in uncertainty. BUT, let me tell you what a blessing that old buffet has been already.

New Hanover County Schools closed on March 14th and our no contact food drive-thru opened for our kids just 3 days later at the Market Street location. 3 Days! The NNC team and volunteers scrubbed it (it was neglected and empty for over 3 years), updated the fire extinguishers, added WIFI access, repaired the walk-in freezers and refrigerators, and generally revitalized the place. That same week, our drive-thru opened and distributed 900 Emergency Food Boxes (37,800 real meals) to children and their families! Those boxes came with 500 Loaves of Bread, 365 Packages of Meat, and 4,000 pounds of fresh produce. Since then, more than 110,000 real meals and 5 tons of meat, fresh produce, and eggs have been given to kids out of that location alone (See the quote from a very happy mom below). This would have been literally impossible at our Greenfield Street location. It doesn’t have the storage, coolers, parking, and drive-thru space required to safely and effectively feed that many kids. Oh yeah, those numbers don’t include the tens of thousands of meals that NourishNC and our partners have delivered right into kid’s hands and homes.

Did I mention that we gave keys to Market Street to the UNCW Latino Alliance and the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance (CFCBA) too? The Latino Alliance delivers our grocery bags and produce boxes right to the homes of families in need. CFCBA used Market Street as a distribution center for feeding service industry folks affected by COVID-19 closures.

Our drive-thru food distribution opens again this week. We have the Wrightsville Beach Brewery food truck providing hot grilled cheese sammies, 800 brand new board games thanks to Michael Jacobs, 1,400 stuffed grocery bags, 7,200 pounds of produce, pot pies, and bread for our kids.

All of this and we haven’t even begun to transform the property yet. What a blessing.

Our vision is to be anywhere and everywhere hungry kids need us

NourishNC has three strategic programs specifically designed to provide nutritious food to hungry children in our community.

Click here to learn more about our Backpack Program

Backpack Program

The Backpack Program provides food insecure children, pre-K through 5th grade, with three nutritious meals a day, every weekend, and over every school break.

Click here to learn more about Market On Market program

Market On Market

The Market on Market (The MoM) is a full-service grocery store where food insecure children, pre-K through 12th grade, and their families can shop to choose the food that is best for them.

Click here to learn more about our Food Farmacy program

Food Farmacy

The Food Farmacy Program provides non-perishable and fresh food items through partner organizations such as schools, pediatrician offices, and other nonprofits.