As the temperature neared 90 degrees Friday afternoon, about 30 volunteers from Blue Cross Blue Shield NC and Food Lion gathered to package and prepare special kits that could be needed in a different type of weather.
This summer, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle plans to distribute 1,000 hurricane emergency preparedness kits to families and individuals across Wake, Durham and Nash counties.
On Friday, stacks of empty boxes dwindled and piles of garbage and recycling rose as volunteers filled the boxes with water, canned goods and emergency supplies.
The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle — a non-profit that seeks to provide low-income families in North Carolina with access to food and education about nutrition — will be giving out the kits over the course of the next month, said L. Ron Pringle, president and CEO of the Food Shuttle.
“We’re about empowering our communities, empowering people to take care of themselves,” Pringle said. “With these hurricane kits, we’re not just giving people a supply to start with, but also educational material that’s going to be in the box as well, so that they can continue to build upon what we’ve provided.”
Pringle said that the kits would be distributed by The Spinning Plate, a food truck run by the Food Shuttle that has been providing hot meals to vulnerable populations such as seniors in rural communities and children in food deserts since January.
‘We all have the same mission’
The partnership between the Food Shuttle, Food Lion and Blue Cross Blue Shield has a long history, said Natasha Brinegar, vice president of category management at Food Lion.
Cheryl Parquet, director of community and diversity engagement at Blue Cross NC, also spoke about the importance of working together to end food insecurity across the state.
“We’re all about coalitions coming together. We realize that food insecurity is an issue, but it’s just not Inter-Faith that’s going to be driving it. It’s going to be Food Lion, it’s going to be other companies,” Parquet said. “We all have the same mission.”
The event also was one of the first times that many of the volunteers had met each other in person. In his remarks to the crowd, Pringle apologized if he didn’t recognize people he had previously met on Zoom.
Parquet said this was the first in-person volunteering event she had been to since the start of the pandemic.
“I haven’t seen some members of my team in over a year, so it’s great being back and being able to give back,” she said.
As the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle prepares to head into vulnerable communities to distribute the kits, Pringle emphasized the importance of local aid efforts to end food insecurity.
“All of these organizations, they live in this community, they work in this community, and this is their way of giving back to their community,” he said. “So it’s just a beautiful example of community taking care of community.