Steve McCrossan, Executive Director
We’ve had a lot of people ask, so we want to answer: What challenges is NourishNC facing?
Thankfully, we were relatively prepared for this. Early on, we stocked up on food and supplies, took multiple trainings related to COVID-19, and discussed the lessons learned from previous disasters (like Florence). We are also blessed with a dedicated network of volunteers, funders, and partners. Because of this, we were able to distribute a lot of food, very quickly. Our food distribution drive-thru opened March 17th and we had boots on the ground in multiple communities the same day.
So, let me finally answer the question. What challenges are we facing?
1. Food: A few weeks into COVID-19, our two discount food vendors effectively cancelled their bulk purchase programs. This means we will pay more for some of the food that we normally purchase. Our other vendors are out of stock on some items or are experiencing delays. Keep in mind, we typically purchase by the pallet, so while you can get items in the store, we can’t necessarily get them in bulk. While this is challenging and costly, it has led NourishNC to change the way we think, the way we purchase and from whom, and what products we provide to our kids. Sure, we can’t purchase pallets of retail size macaroni and cheese or jelly right now, but we’ve purchased replacement items and scooped up some amazing deals on produce, yogurt, and items like big ol’ chicken pot pies. We bought all 800 of these family sized frozen pot pies through an “opportunity buy” and got an amazing deal on them. More importantly, I guarantee these will provide a hot and tasty treat for our kids to share with their families around the dinner table. Dare I say it, I think they may like it better than our staple macaroni and cheese boxes.
In “normal” times, we also take in a tremendous amount of donated food (food drives) from the community but this has slowed to a trickle. Feel free to pick up a few extra items for our kids when you next venture out. We have a “no contact” food drive drop off and selfie station at our warehouse at 601 Greenfield St. You can also ship food right to us via our Amazon Wish List.
2. The Long Haul: After an early adrenaline-fueled sprint, NourishNC is now settling in for a marathon. Even if COVID subsides by May, we are committed to feeding the kids on our programs over the entire Summer and beyond. With this commitment will come the issues of increased demand and the need for long-term funding. Research shows that donations typically surge after a disaster or incident and then exponentially decrease over the ensuing months. While that worries me, I have always found our community to be generous when our kids need it. The people, businesses, and faith-based community here have always stepped up and I am confident that they will again. This is a great place to live.
When COVID first became “real”, NourishNC looked to our values to guide us. One of our Core Values is Kaizen, a Japanese word for “continuous improvement.” COVID has forced NourishNC to improve ourselves, our programs, and NourishNC as a whole. We will continue to explore new products and vendors, innovative methods of food distribution, and to do things we honestly hadn’t thought of until COVID. NourishNC will emerge from this experience as a stronger organization that can better serve our kids. For that I am thankful. I am also thankful for YOU because none of this is possible without you! #WeGotThis