“Unacceptable.” That’s what Joyce Kohfeldt thought to herself when she learned how many children in Northwest North Carolina go hungry each year.
“This is unacceptable,” she told the Second Harvest Food Bank staff when she called their offices, asking what she could do.
“It’s unacceptable!” she told her pastor at Winston-Salem’s Epiphany Lutheran when she asked for the church’s support to start a backpack program at a local school.
A retired educator, school administrator, and small business owner, Joyce’s passion has always been helping to make sure children have what they need to learn and thrive. Thus, when she learned that North Carolina ranks among the worst in the nation for food insecurity and that children are struggling through their school days without enough nourishment to fuel their minds… it was, well, simply unacceptable.
But with hunger so prevalent in our communities, where does one start?
“I can answer that.” says Joyce. “It starts here, now, with me and with YOU.”
Joyce is the type of person who gets things started. She is persistent, relentless, and dedicated. When Joyce shared what she had learned about local food insecurity and how Second Harvest could help launch solutions, her church quickly agreed that action was necessary. “Kids are going to bed and waking up hungry every day. We need to feed them and we need to feed them now.”
Joyce took it upon herself to get things moving. She personally wrote a check to fund the opening of a BackPack program, buying everything from food to backpacks to Ziplock bags to shelving– all that was needed to create the base of the program. The congregation of Epiphany Lutheran then rose to Joyce’s call to action, providing additional funds and volunteer support.
The new program was an immediate success.
However, a few weeks later Joyce overheard a child receiving a BackPack say that he was hiding his backpack food so his family wouldn’t eat it, she immediately understood something new: “Kids are hungry because their families are hungry. This is unacceptable.”
Joyce once again challenged her community, this time spearheading a campaign to start a school pantry that could feed not just school children, but their entire families. Again, she called her friends to action. Today, Ibraham Elementary has both a robust BackPack program and a school pantry, where parents can come pick up what they need to feed their entire families. Together, the two programs are serving over three hundred people every month.
Joyce stays involved, volunteering her time and supplying food when necessary. But moreover, she is there to watch and listen and learn, ready to identify needs and create solutions. Joyce has decided that she will be the reason kids and families at Ibraham can sit down to a meal together.
Like Joyce, you can be the reason that a family shares a meal together this holiday. You can be the reason a child has the fuel she needs to strive and succeed in school. You can be the reason a senior experiences the care of community. You can be the reason our community is a better place. Give today at SecondHarvestNWNC.org