That’s what Joyce Kohfeldt thought to herself when she learned how many children in Northwest North Carolina go hungry.
“This is unacceptable,” she told Daisy Rodriguez, Director of Childhood Hunger Programs, when she called Second Harvest Food Bank to ask what she could do.
“Childhood hunger is unacceptable,” she told her pastor at Epiphany Lutheran in Winston-Salem when she asked for the church’s support to start a backpack program at a local school.
A retired educator, school administrator and small business owner, Joyce’s passion has always been helping to make sure children have what they need to learn and thrive. So, to learn that North Carolina ranks among the worst in the nation for food insecurity and that children are struggling through their school days without enough nourishment to fuel their minds…it was, well, simply unacceptable.
But with hunger so prevalent in our communities, where does one start?
“I can answer that.” says Joyce. “It starts here, now, with me and with YOU.”
Joyce Gets Things Started
Joyce’s church agreed: when 1 in 6 people, including 1 in 4 children, in our communities lacks sufficient nutritious food, it is something that morally necessitates action… and Joyce was ready to act. “Kids are going to bed and waking up hungry every day. We need to feed them and we need to feed them now.”
So, Joyce took it upon herself to get things moving. She wrote a check to fund the opening of a BackPack program, buying everything from food to backpacks to Ziplock bags to shelving– all that was needed to create the base of the program. The congregation of Epiphany Lutheran rose to Joyce’s call to action, providing additional funds and volunteer support.
A few weeks later, when Joyce overheard a child receiving a BackPack say that he was hiding his backpack food so his family wouldn’t eat it, she immediately understood. “Kids are hungry because their families are hungry. This is unacceptable. We need to do more.”
Joyce once again challenged her community, this time spearheading a campaign to start a school pantry. Again, she called her friends to action. Today, Ibraham Elementary has both a robust BackPack program and a school pantry, where parents can come pick up what they need to feed their entire families. Together, the two programs are serving over three hundred people every month.
Joyce is at it again.
The volunteer-run programs Joyce has helped to start at Ibraham harness the generosity and goodwill of the local community to help their neighbors. Like the programs at Ibraham, many of Second Harvest’s on-the-ground partner programs are small, volunteer-only operations. Without our partner network, the 37 tons (yes, tons!) of food Second Harvest moves each day across Northwest North Carolina might never make it to the plates of the families that need it.
Incredibly, many of our partners are doing this important work without the basic supplies they need: refrigerators, shelving, food prep tables, and more. Joyce thinks that this is “unacceptable” and she’s ready to act.
“It starts here, now, with me and with YOU!”