Durham County has launched Feeding Durham Together, a “one-stop” online portal where volunteers can sign up to assist with food distribution. You can take one-off shifts, like distributing lunch to school children, packaging meals, and unloading food deliveries, or make ongoing commitments like grocery shopping for seniors.  

Food—how to source it, how to make it, how to get it to the people who need it most—has emerged as one of the most acute needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for food assistance has spiked all across the country, as workers have been laid off, school closures have left families without school lunches, and exposure dangers have left the elderly and immunocompromised unable to access groceries. 

The county’s emergency operations center has created a task force to try to address these needs; this new volunteer portal is one way to bridge the gap between vulnerable populations and those with the capacity to help out. 

Feeding Durham Together is a partnership between the county and the Triangle Nonprofit & Volunteer Leadership Center (formerly the Volunteer Center of Durham).

“Right now, our community’s hunger challenges are greater than normal,” Donna Rewalt, feeding coordinator with the Food Security Task Force, said in a press release. “We strongly encourage community members to volunteer to support our food relief agencies that are on the front lines every day. We have a duty to step up and make sure all Durham residents get the food they need.”

Volunteers are required to be over the age of 18 and under the age of 60. Upon signing up, volunteers will also receive safety guidelines. 

Although Governor Cooper has unveiled a multiphase reopening process for North Carolina that begins to lift restrictions May 9, officials emphasize that food insecurity issues are not going to be resolved anytime soon—nor, they say, are these needs necessarily new.  

“Food security needs were already an issue in our community, and in many communities across the country and world,” says Michael Davis, Durham County’s strategic initiative manager and Food Security Task Force co-coordinator. “This crisis we’re in just compounds issues around hunger and food relief and so, as an organization, we’ll be committed to working with community agencies to see how we can best support them.”

Contact deputy arts and culture editor Sarah Edwards at sedwards@indyweek.com.

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