by Kerri Hughes
It’s no secret that Winston-Salem has some of the worst childhood hunger outcomes in the nation. According to a 2011 study by the Food Research and Action Center, the greater Winston-Salem area was ranked the worst metro area in the U.S. in having families with children that had a hard time putting food on the table. H.O.P.E is non-profit that seeks to change that.
H.O.P.E was founded by Ben and Dr. Marty Tennille two years ago. Ben is a retired Chief Judge of the NC Business Court and Marty is retired from 33 years of pediatric practice. After their minister said that children in local schools were struggling to learn because of the effects that hunger had on them, they decided to take action.
The H.O.P.E. Project began by serving lunches to children and giving fresh fruits and vegetables to any adult on site and has since served 62,472 meals to children and given 76,190 pounds of fresh produce to adults in need. They focus on fresh and healthy foods, while working with several local farms and gardeners who donate produce to the project.
“Pantries often have high-sodium canned goods because of a lack of refrigeration facilities and these foods are bad for diabetics, anyone with hypertension or heart disease,” Dr. Tennille said.
The project has grown to house several sites and eliminate the problem of transportation for Winston-Salem residents.
“Transportation is a huge issue for people in need,” Tennille said. “Many live in our 40 food deserts, meaning that their access to fresh food is limited, not only by income, but by the fact that there are no stores selling fresh food within walking distance. Our program brings the food and services to the neighborhoods in need.”
In addition to increasing accessibility, H.O.P.E also created the Find Food app, a bilingual app which shows every source of free food in Forsyth County and shows the nearest options by locating the user via GPS. It can also locate other services, such as Spanish speaking, tutoring, shelters, clothing closets, financial help or counseling. It can be found for free on the app store and on the H.O.P.E website.
The Project also provides other services to the people it serves. It teaches parents how to cook with the food given, and brings along volunteers to hang out with kids and act as mentors.
While the project is very successful, it owes its success to its volunteers and supporters. “We are dependent on donations to provide the food for 750 children and their families every Sunday year-round,” Dr. Tennille told CCD. “Our goal is for everyone in our community to help everyone else. Not a charity, but a group effort to ensure that no child grows up hungry.”
If you would like to donate ingredients, volunteer or donate, click HERE to go to the H.O.P.E. website.