Sprouting Support: How Inter-Faith Food Shuttle brings gardens to the community and promotes sustainable food supplies

If we’ve learned anything from our community spotlight posts, it’s that there are so many incredible people and organizations across our local communities working tirelessly to make a difference. We are excited to introduce to you this month’s spotlight: Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

The Food Shuttle’s story began in 1989, when two Raleigh soccer moms rescued 11 breakfast sandwiches from a local fast food restaurant that was going to dispose of the morning meals. The women brought the sandwiches to a nearby soup kitchen where those 11 sandwiches were divided into 44 meals for hungry community members.

This marked the first of many food shuttles that would soon become Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, which redistributed 750 pounds of food in their first year alone.

Since their humble beginnings in the late eighties, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle has redistributed on average 6 million pounds of food each year.

“It just took somebody to see where the hole in the food chain was and address it,” Communications and Media Manager Laura Rice says.

Rice describes the organization today as an unconventional food bank that pioneers innovative, transformative solutions aimed at ending hunger in central North Carolina.

The organization works on a variety of projects that support community health education and urban agricultural education. They have founded and run a 14-acre farm, a number of community gardens in Raleigh and Durham and a culinary job training program for those who are unemployed so they can enter the job market while contributing to the fight against hunger.

“We have non-traditional ways of teaching people to become self-sustaining so that we are creating long-term solutions to the issue of hunger,” Laura says.

One of these methods is a new program called Gardens for Everyone. Since September, volunteers have gone out into the community and built raised bed garden boxes for low-to-moderate income families and organizations. This pay-what-you-can program gives recipients access to fresh produce, grown right in their backyards, as well as a year of support from Inter-Faith Food Shuttle so they can learn how to sustain their at-home food supply.

The response has been bigger than they ever expected.

Since its start in late September, volunteers have already built their eleventh box and continue to get overwhelming support and interest in the program. The Food Shuttle is currently accepting applications for the Gardens for Everyone program, open to anyone in Wake or Durham Counties.

“It’s a really innovative solution to educate and bring food and sustainable options to people in the community,” Laura says. “Since the onset of COVID-19, these types of hunger solutions have become even more important.”

If you would like to support this amazing organization and help them work toward eradicating hunger in central North Carolina, you can learn more about how you can volunteer your time at https://www.foodshuttle.org/volunteer. The Food Shuttle is also accepting donations at https://4agc.com/donation_pages/ef7f9d77-59ca-4d13-ab3a-887234df2011 and all gifts up to $100,000 donated through December 31 will be matched by two of the organization’s partners.