By Gene Galin
Pittsboro, NC – A new chapter began for the Chatham Outreach Alliance (CORA) as they proudly unveiled their cutting-edge food pantry facility in a heartwarming ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 20, 2023. The event was attended by city and county officials, volunteers, and members of the community who came together to celebrate this significant milestone. The newly transformed space promises to upgrade the way they serve their neighbors in need.
A Vision Turned Reality: Inside the CORA Food Pantry
Under the leadership of Melissa Driver Beard, the Executive Director, and her dedicated staff, the CORA Food Pantry has been transformed into a state-of-the-art facility designed to serve the community better. With unwavering determination and the support of the community, CORA’s vision to alleviate hunger in the community has now been translated into reality. The new facility boasts a spacious and inviting interior, akin to a grocery store, which ensures a dignified and comfortable shopping experience for those seeking assistance.
Over the past five years, Melissa and her dedicated team have been tirelessly working towards this moment, which has culminated in the renovation and construction of CORA’s facilities. The event marked a milestone in the fight against food insecurity in Chatham County, as the organization now stands better equipped than ever to serve its community.
A Vision of Expansion
CORA’s journey towards growth and expansion began in 2015, when a forward-thinking group of individuals on the board of directors, led by Jim and Linda Farrington, recognized the need to expand the organization’s reach. They approached the county government, seeking additional funding to bolster CORA’s efforts.
The Indispensable County Partnership
Acknowledging the invaluable support received from Chatham County, Melissa expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the local government for their unwavering partnership. The county’s provision of the new facilities has been instrumental in CORA’s ability to provide aid to those facing food insecurity. With access to the expanded space, the organization now has the necessary infrastructure to serve nearly 1.3 million meals to over 10,000 individuals each year.
Support from Generous Donors
Melissa also acknowledged the generosity of CORA’s donors, whose contributions made the renovation and expansion of the facilities possible. Thanks to their support, the organization has acquired essential equipment such as freezers, refrigerators, carts, and tents, all of which are vital in ensuring the seamless functioning of CORA’s food pantry. These donations have significantly strengthened CORA’s ability to meet the needs of the community over the years.
The Heart and Soul of CORA: Volunteers and Staff
No organization can thrive without the unwavering commitment of its volunteers, staff, and board members. Melissa took a moment to recognize the incredible dedication and tireless efforts put forth by the entire CORA team. From the volunteers who selflessly give their time, to the board of directors, and the dedicated staff, each person’s contribution played a pivotal role in reaching this milestone.
Fighting Hunger, Building a Healthy Community
The impact of CORA’s work extends far beyond providing meals. Melissa stressed the crucial role that proper nutrition plays in creating a thriving community. When individuals have access to nutritious food, children can perform better in schools, and seniors can avoid the difficult decisions of choosing between food and other basic necessities. CORA’s efforts are not just about alleviating immediate hunger; they are about building a healthier and stronger community.
Upon stepping inside, visitors are greeted by neatly arranged shelves brimming with fresh produce, canned goods, and other essential items. Gone are the days of conventional food pantries where recipients had limited choices. CORA’s new model allows individuals and families in need to choose the food items that best suit their preferences and dietary needs. It is a vital step towards promoting a sense of agency and reducing the stigma associated with receiving food assistance.
Feeding Hope: CORA’s Contributions to Chatham County
Over the years, CORA has become an indispensable lifeline for countless families in Chatham County struggling to put food on their tables. What began as a modest endeavor has evolved into an organization making a substantial impact. With the new facility, CORA is poised to reach even more individuals, families, and seniors who are experiencing food insecurity.
The dedication of the staff, volunteers, and donors has played a pivotal role in sustaining the organization’s growth. Mayor Perry, while expressing her admiration for CORA’s accomplishments, noted that the new facility exemplifies the spirit of the community coming together to support one another. She emphasized that the food pantry serves not just as a place to obtain sustenance but also as a symbol of hope and solidarity within Chatham County.
CORA’s Commitment to Community Engagement
Beyond providing essential food items, CORA has demonstrated a commitment to fostering community engagement and uplifting its recipients. The food pantry will serve as a multifunctional hub that offers various resources and support services. Melissa Turner shared that they are collaborating with local organizations and businesses to offer workshops on nutrition, budgeting, and job skills to empower individuals on their journey towards self-sufficiency.
Moreover, CORA’s partnership with local farmers and producers is helping to bridge the gap between agriculture and food insecurity. By procuring fresh, locally grown produce, the food pantry not only supports the local economy but also ensures healthier food options for its clients.
Making a Difference: How You Can Support CORA
As a vital lifeline for the community, CORA’s success relies on the collective efforts of the community members. There are several ways individuals and organizations can contribute and make a difference:
- Volunteer: Whether it’s sorting food donations, assisting clients with their shopping, or participating in community events, volunteers play a crucial role in supporting CORA’s operations. Reach out to the food pantry to find out how you can get involved.
- Donate: The food pantry relies on the generosity of donors to keep its shelves stocked. Consider making monetary contributions or donating non-perishable food items to support CORA’s mission.
- Advocate: Raise awareness about food insecurity and the work of organizations like CORA in the community.
- Collaborate: If you represent a local business or organization, consider partnering with CORA to create programs and initiatives that benefit the community.
Conclusion: Filling Plates, Nourishing Souls
The ribbon-cutting ceremony of CORA’s new food pantry marks a moment of hope and joy for the community, reflecting their collective effort to fight hunger and uplift their neighbors. The organization’s commitment to innovation, community engagement, and providing dignified assistance sets an inspiring example for others to follow.
The pantry is open Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm and Fridays are open 12 pm to 2 pm for drive through pick-up.
View the ribbon cutting ceremony on YouTube.
00:03 Melissa and her staff are celebrating with a ribbon cutting ceremony and tours.
- The event starts with a ribbon cutting.
- Melissa and her staff will be giving tours and providing refreshments to the attendees.
00:21 Students in Chatham County are excited to showcase their hard work
- The students have put in a lot of effort to prepare for this event
- Chatham County is grateful to the students for their efforts
00:32 Mayor Perry gives a speech
- She has been at the location multiple times to drop off contributions
- She talks about the items she has been asked to bring
00:54 Impressive grocery store feeding neighbors
- The store aims to feed friends and neighbors
- It is like a grocery store inside
01:07 Thank you all for your hard work and contribution to our community.
- Your efforts are greatly appreciated.
- We understand that everyone is working hard and we will continue our remarks indoors.
01:16 We are proud to have lots of refreshments.
- We apologize for the delay.
- Enjoy the refreshments provided.
01:26 Building tours and informative volunteers available
- Tours available to explore buildings
- Volunteers and board members will provide information about what’s happening
- Mayor and town manager, Jonathan Franklin, are also available to assist
01:49 Introducing the new town manager
- Meet the 99.66 109.14 manager
- Feel free to ask questions about him