Both founders of organizations dedicated to wiping out hunger, Jenette and Cheryl followed their passions and built local projects that took root in their communities before expanding into successful, effective programs.
Jenette Meldrum founded PORCH-Durham in the fall of 2010 after witnessing children coming to school hungry in her own classroom. And when she realized that children in her sons’ classrooms went home on Fridays without a meal to look forward to all weekend, she felt compelled to do something.
Jenette began organizing neighborhood food drives that simplified the donation process: All a donor had to do was place a bag of food on his or her porch, where a volunteer would drive by to pick it up. The food was then packed into backpacks at schools that were sent home with children in need. PORCH-Durham collected more than nine tons of food in its first year, and today the organization is constantly adding new schools and new students to the program -- not only during the school year, but also during the summer. For Jenette, the crucial element of this program comes from the source of the food: community members and neighbors supporting each other.
Cheryl Jackson approached her fight with hunger from a different perspective: first-hand experience. Cheryl and her husband collectively worked five jobs but they still could not make ends meet, and their visits to food pantries and government offices left Cheryl feeling humiliated and heartbroken. Convinced there had to be a better way, she forged that way herself.
With very little savings, Cheryl founded Minnie’s Food Pantry, inspired by and named after her mother. To date, Minnie’s Food Pantry has helped provide over 125,000 people with healthy nutritional meals. Cheryl literally rolls out the red carpet for families to walk on as they enter, transforming the experience of waiting in line at a food pantry.
This National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, do more than become aware: get involved. Learn more about donating to PORCH-Durham and Minnie’s Food Pantry, and read about how you can fight hunger in your own community here: http://www.foodpantries.org.