Partnerships Matter: Credit Unions & Other Agencies Come Together to Feed Hungry Kids in Western NC

The credit unions in the Western Chapter have done a remarkable job over the years of working together to raise tens of thousands of dollars for various community agencies. Over the past few years, however, their community efforts have zeroed in on Eblen Charities – a fine non-profit organization that provides various types of assistance to residents of southwest NC.

 This year, the chapter has taken their support of Eblen Charities and the community to an entirely new level. As a result, thousands of schoolkids in four counties are reaping the benefits.

As we all know, food is a powerful force – it’s a basic human need that when unmet, undermines our ability to function. This is true whether in busy stretches of daily life we forget to eat … or we simply don’t have access to adequate nutrition.

Forgetting to eat is one thing … lacking adequate nutrition is another. In addition to the daily struggles of hunger, feelings of shame and embarrassment can make the situation even worse for kids and their parents. And of course these feelings can often be magnified in a social setting like school.

To help school kids receive adequate nutrition, Eblen developed the Food for Thought program a few years ago. Food for Thought provides nutritious meals to schoolkids in western NC. More recently, Eblen had also started a snack program that served mainly Asheville-Buncombe County Schools.

The snack program is where the credit unions come into play. The Western Chapter decided to put all its fundraising efforts into expanding the snack program into four additional counties that surround Asheville. Like many parts of NC, these four counties have seen many jobs go overseas in the past several years. As a result, a substantial percentage of the students are on free or reduced lunch.

The chapter also took on the amazing responsibility of helping Eblen and other agencies to distribute the snacks to participating schools on an ongoing basis! Credit union staffers in these four counties have logged thousands of miles on winding mountain roads to make sure that kids get these snacks.

As you will see in the video, Mountain Credit Union in Waynesville alone has seen about 15,000 snacks pass through their building during this school year!

While the credit unions are a key linchpin in this effort, other agencies are at the table helping this program work. In addition to Eblen, the Manna Food Bank provides snacks at very low prices, Ingles Grocery Stores in these counties have also pitched in to allow for the purchase of snacks at cost (this also cuts down on distribution costs) … and the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation provided the seed grant that allowed the program to expand into the four additional counties.    

By working together, these agencies ensure that thousands of kids can focus on their studies — and not worry about food.

Many thanks to the folks in Haywood and Madison Counties who allowed our cameras into the schools. The kids in the video are from Mars Hill Elementary School in Madison County. Special thanks to Ben Powell, Jessie Fox, Hayden Keitt, Macean Metcalf and Anna Hamlin for spending a few minutes with us outside the classroom!  

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One Response

  1. Truly heart-warming! Makes me proud to work in the credit union movement. Great job, Western Chapter!

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