HOPE strives to localize hunger
While man cannot live on bread alone, the need for food is still necessary to survive.
According to the United Census Bureau, 17 percent of Alamance County lives under the poverty line compared to the national average of 15 percent.
After serving in food kitchens for years, sophomore Jensen Roll came to North Carolina for school and found two main problems.
“One of those was not [having] enough volunteers, and the other was not having enough food to feed everybody there,” said Roll.
Roll is creating his own Social Entrepreneurship major, and in December of 2012 he envisioned a solution to help solve Alamance County’s hunger problem. Together with Steven Cobb, Greg Stone, Chris Coble and Drew Dimos, the team started HOPE last fall, which stands for Helping Other People Eat.
Since then they’ve already won several awards that recognize the program’s potential.
HOPE joins participating restaurants to raise money for local food kitchens. Customers who visit a HOPE certified restaurant can choose to donate with a credit card to HOPE when they pay their bill. The funds are then directly sent to organizations in need. Some potentially HOPE certified restaurants are Mosca’s, Village Tavern, and Grill 5.8.4.
“So you’ve got people who are not worried about paying for their meal and they are able to contribute to paying for someone else’s meal,“ Roll said.
One organization the HOPE project seeks to help is Allied Churches in Burlington. Funds can keep food on their shelves, and in the hands of those who need it most.
Allied Churches can purchase five pounds of food per dollar, and assists thousands of people every year by providing financial support for individuals and families in low-income or homeless circumstances. They also provide assistance with food, shelter, and employment.
Thomas Benis first came to Allied Churches in 2003 for a second chance at life.
Ten years later he now has permanent housing, a steady job, and an unbreakable spirit and faith.
He now loves to give back to organization who gave him his life back. Benis is greatly encouraged by the HOPE program and its plan to enlighten and engage the community.
“I don’t think people have a clue about how many people are having trouble with food right now and are having to depend on people to help them so that they’ve got a meal for their children,” Benis said.
While still in the early stages of development, Roll and his team already look forward to future expansion.
“My dream for HOPE is that is doesn’t stop in Alamance County.” Jensen said.
“It’s creating a community of people who are aware of hunger in their community and choosing to eat out in a different way.”