CORA: Feeding the community and fostering hope

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – For over 34 years, CORA has been serving individuals and families facing hunger in Chatham County. With its flagship operations in Pittsboro, CORA offers a range of programs and services to address the food needs of the community. From their newly renovated food pantry to mobile markets, summer nutrition programs for kids, and homebound deliveries, CORA is committed to ensuring that no one in Chatham County goes hungry. With over 300 dedicated volunteers and a growing demand for their services, CORA continues to make a significant impact on the lives of those facing food insecurity.

Hunger is an issue that affects communities across the nation, and Chatham County is no exception. However, amidst the challenges, organizations like CORA Food Pantry have emerged as beacons of hope, providing essential food assistance to those in need. I had a chance to talk with Rebecca Hankins and Pam Barker of CORA at an event featuring UNC basketball forward Armando Bacot, where the group was accepting food donations. I learned about the various programs and initiatives of CORA, they shed light on their new food pantry, highlighted the volunteer opportunities available, and emphasized the impact CORA are making in the community.

Expanding Their Reach: Programs and Services
CORA Food Pantry offers a comprehensive range of programs to address food insecurity in Chatham County. Their mobile markets, held twice a month, bring food directly to communities where the need is most significant. By setting up distribution points at locations such as Nature Trail mobile home park and the Chatham Hospital Technology Way, CORA ensures that individuals have access to nutritious food without having to travel long distances.

Summer nutrition programs for kids are another crucial aspect of CORA’s efforts. Through their “SNACK” initiative (Summer Nutrition Assistance for Chatham Kids), they provide free groceries to school children during the summer break. This program aims to bridge the gap when school meals are unavailable, ensuring that children receive the nourishment they need even outside the academic year.

The Impact of the New Food Pantry
CORA Food Pantry recently underwent a transformation with the construction of a new food pantry building. The previous pantry, operating out of a 70-year-old medical building, had become inadequate to meet the growing demand for their services. With the new facility designed like a grocery store, clients can browse the aisles and select items they need, fostering a sense of dignity and choice.

The pantry also houses administrative offices, a conference room for educational classes, and a lobby with a children’s area. This comprehensive space provides an opportunity for CORA to expand its reach, host nutrition classes, and offer resources to the community beyond food assistance.

Volunteering: A Path to Make a Difference
CORA relies heavily on the dedication and commitment of volunteers. With approximately 300 volunteers, the organization receives invaluable support in carrying out its mission. Volunteers can contribute their time and skills in various capacities, including assisting with donations, packing food bags, coordinating the choice table, and providing administrative support. Opportunities are flexible, allowing individuals to volunteer according to their availability and interests.

Volunteering at CORA not only provides an opportunity to give back to the community but also offers a sense of fulfillment and camaraderie. Engaging in activities that alleviate hunger and support those in need can be a therapeutic and deeply rewarding experience.

For those interested in donating food, CORA Food Pantry provides a curated list of their most needed items on their website, Individuals can drop off donations at the pantry located at 40 Camp Drive in Pittsboro, open Monday through Friday from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M.