Emotions got the best of Amy White as the charitable arm of a Garner company made a sizable donation to a hunger-fighting cause on April 4.
White, the executive director of Community of Hope Ministries, said she gets emotional any time someone chooses to help people who are most vulnerable. She knows hunger is a real problem in Garner, where Community of Hope serves thousands of meals from its food pantry each year.
“What really reveals the true need in Garner is the number of students who qualify for free and reduced-rate lunch,” White said, noting the rate easily surpasses 50 percent at some Garner elementary schools.
The Golden State Foods Foundation took a stab at those figures with a donation of $40,000, the second-largest one-time gift Community of Hope has ever received.
In response, the Town of Garner declared April 4 Childhood Hunger Awareness Day.
“It’s not every day you get a $40,000 gift,” White said. “It’s absolutely amazing.”
The foundation, whose mission is to improve the lives of children and families in need, also donated $20,000 to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
“Today really validates why we are here,” said Gregg Tarlton, general manger of Golden State Foods’ Garner facility, which opened in 2009. “We’ve made the right decision to land here.”
The Golden State Foods Foundation’s Garner committee raised the money through its “No-Lunch Lunch” event in November. Guests were served a mere bowl of soup and piece of bread, leaving them with a taste of what it is like to depend on homeless shelters and soup kitchens.
“We’re a food-distribution company,” Tarlton said at the event. “This is important to us. It was really something that’s right in our wheelhouse.”
Community of Hope plans to use the money for a new program providing groceries, twice a month for a year, to 85 needy families with children who are behind in learning.
White said the ministry will require parents chosen for the program to take part in parenting and budgeting seminars.
“We’re trying to teach folks to fish for themselves,” she said.
The donation will also help supply food to children during the summer break, when school meals are not available.