As we adjust and adapt to the current circumstances, it is vital that we maintain a positive outlook and continue to band together as a community. In this story and video, we reflect on the successes of the Durham Community Food Pantry and Reverend Joseph G. Vetter Family Enrichment Center as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of its opening.
The concept of opening the Durham Community Food Pantry was developed in 2017 as a response to a glaring need throughout our community. Multiple organizations came together to determine that there was a 1.5 million-pound annual food shortage for families in need in Durham and Orange Counties.
Building off the proven concept of the Catholic Parish Outreach food pantry in Raleigh, Catholic Charities and a dedicated team of community leaders moved forward with a campaign to raise support for the creation of the Durham Community Food Pantry.
Through the generous support of our Founding Members, Catholic Parishes, community leaders, and partner agencies, we were able to raise $1.7 million dollars to secure funds for the first three years of operating expenses and renovation costs.
In early 2019, construction workers quickly created warehouse space, a food prep area, the guest waiting lobby, and the Reverend Joseph G. Vetter Family Enrichment Center.
On Friday, May 17, 2019, we celebrated the Ribbon Cutting for the Durham Community Food Pantry and Reverend Joseph G. Vetter Family Enrichment Center. Durham Mayor Steve Schewel declared the day “Durham Community Food Pantry Day” and Duke Football Coach, David Cutcliffe, reflected on how everyone who gathered for the celebration formed a team working together to end food insecurity in the community.
Following the ribbon cutting, guests were treated to singing by students from Immaculata Catholic School, a barbecue lunch, bluegrass music, and tours of the new facility. Catholic Charities supporters then traveled down the road to enjoy a Durham Bulls game where this new facility was highlighted throughout the game.
The Durham Community Food Pantry and Reverend Joseph G. Vetter Family Enrichment Center opened its doors to clients on May 22, 2019 with the goal of serving 3,000 individuals and distributing 300,000 pounds of food in its first year of operation.
In August of 2019, just four months after serving our first client, we reached our goal of serving 3,000 individuals. Just three months after, on November 13, came another huge milestone of distributing 150,000 pounds of food. With the continued support from the community, and over 5,680 volunteer hours by the one-year anniversary, we have achieved all of our first-year goals. As of today, we have served 14,474 unduplicated individuals and exceeded our goal of distributing 300,000 pounds of food to those in need.
Additionally, the Reverend Joseph G. Vetter Family Enrichment Center has helped families find sustainable solutions for challenges in their lives. Staff have been able to assist 1,468 individuals by distributing nearly $90,000 in emergency assistance funds.
The Durham Community Food Pantry and Reverend Joseph G. Vetter Family Enrichment Center could not have accomplished this without the incredible support from our Catholic Charities family. We look forward to growing our relationships as we expand our days of operation in 2020, enabling us to achieve our goal of filling the annual 1.5-million-pound food shortage by 2021.