In the News

Walter Magazine Features BackPack Buddies

The September 2019 issue of Walter Magazine featured a story about Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and BackPack Buddies and the impact the program has on the improved learning capacity of the children it serves.  By removing the trauma of hunger by providing food for the weekend break from school, BackPack Buddies allows children to focus their attention on learning.   “’BackPack Buddies is the first line of defense for kids experiencing the stress and trauma of food insecurity,’” says Julie Cox, former Advocacy Manager at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS), the organization that started the program in 2006. BackPack Buddies currently serves 2,900 students per week among 80 schools in Wake County. Every Thursday, volunteers deliver bags of food to schools to be distributed before the Friday dismissal bell rings. The goal is to send each student participant home with enough food for the weekend: six meals, including protein, vegetables, fruit, breakfast items and snacks. ‘Healthy food is a right, not a privilege,’ says Cox.”

The magazine piece outlines how several of the existing BackPack Buddies programs came into being and how they all strive to maintain strict confidentiality for the children involved. “Volunteers at the school deliver the bags to classrooms so teachers can discreetly tuck them into elementary schoolers’ backpacks (for middle and high schools, they offer on-site pantries). For many students, confidentiality is key to maintaining a sense of dignity and avoiding stigma.”

BackPack Buddies has a proven track record in its impact as a dependable source of food security for the children and families it serves.  But as Food Shuttle Child Hunger Program Manager Amber Simmons points out, the program does far more than provide the children with weekend meals, “BackPack Buddies is more than just a source of food—it’s a symbol of hope, relief and happiness.”  No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot to pack into one little bag each week.

A link to the full article can be found here.

If you are interested in volunteering with the BackPack Buddies program, please click here.

 Additionally, information on holding a Healthy Food Drive is available here.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Wins Big with Donation from Chiesi

As the Durham Bulls faced off against the Gwinnett Stripers on August 31, Chiesi, a Cary-based specialty pharmaceutical company, sealed its presenting strikeout partnership with the minor league baseball team. In an on-field recognition, Chiesi and the Bulls presented a donation check of $5,000 to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.  Checks were also presented to Children’s Flight of Hope and Me Fine Foundation.

 “This summer we loved ‘returning to the plate’ as a partner with the Bulls to support the incredible work of these organizations,” said Josh Franklin, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Development, Chiesi, USA, who presented the checks and game ball to the nonprofit leaders. “We truly value this fun collaboration with local leaders to make a positive change for children in our area.”

The partnership is part of Chiesi’s CSR program Chiesi in the Community, which invests in health and wellness initiatives for underserved children and the community. Throughout the team’s season, Chiesi donated to the featured nonprofits for every home strikeout by the Bulls. The Bulls collected 729 home strikeouts as of September 3.

Food Shuttle Staff Step Up to Help Those Affected by Hurricane Dorian

As Hurricane Dorian churned away up the East Coast of the Carolinas, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle staff and volunteers stepped up to be good neighbors to those affected by the storm’s fury.  An army of volunteers from the Food Shuttle offices joined forces with their fellows from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina to pack disaster relief meal boxes for folks in Wilmington and New Bern, where storm conditions had already forced food bank closures. Workers of all ages formed double assembly lines, packing boxes of cereal, canned goods, pasta, peanut butter and snack crackers—all along serenaded by the tunes of the Rolling Stones, the B52s, Portugal the Man, Tom Petty and others.  By the end of three hours of working in the Food Bank warehouse, the crew had packed up 29,670 lbs. of food which will translate to 24,725 meals for Dorian’s victims on the coast.  Maya Ticku, a student intern at Inter-Faith Food Shuttle who volunteered at the event, said, “It was nice to come together with others in the area to help give back. It is very rewarding to know that a little effort can make a big difference in someone’s life.” 

In other efforts to make a difference in the lives of those affected by Hurricane Dorian, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle held a short-lived campaign to raise funds to purchase bottled drinking water to send to send to the coast.  In the first 36 hours, the campaign raised over $4,800. “This money will go far in providing a critical item to our neighbors devastated by the storm.  We’re touched by the level of the response,” said Rachel Quigley, Communications and Events Manager at Food Shuttle.

Community Gardeners organize “Vacation Garden School”

Children are a welcome part of the Camden Street Learning Garden. While summer brought heat and afternoon thunderstorms, the neighborhood around Camden Street Learning Garden noticed a new need: an opportunity for children in the neighborhood to gain ownership and pride of the garden. Ladies of the community garden stepped in to address the matter in a personal way: through prayer.  They began to meet one morning a week in the Camden Street Learning Garden to pray for the community:  for the neighborhood, for the children, and for the food being grown in the garden.  Out of these discussions an idea arose— a Vacation Garden School to provide local children a much-needed break from the endless days of summer.


The ladies organized garden-themed crafts and the Camden Street Learning Garden staff taught mini-horticulture lessons.  There were even periods of meditation to help the children learn to focus their energies and thoughts in positive directions. While the children may be heading back to school, they can still find their way to the garden in the afternoon, now with more sense of ownership and education. It is, after all, a learning garden.


The prayer circle continues to meet and ask for spiritual intervention and continued blessings for the neighborhood.  And the community will go forth in their efforts to grow food and flowers, and children and a sense of well-being.  All in the garden on Camden Street.


As thousands of children head back to school, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is gearing up for a full year of making sure that as many kids as possible have enough food to eat. With the launch of the Child Food Hub in September 2018, there is a planned increased to provide 2,900 children each week with BackPack Buddies bags so they’ll have food to eat over the weekend.


Also, 28 schools in Wake, Durham, Johnston and Edgecombe counties will operate School Pantries to ensure that students and staff have access to free, nutritious food to feed their families.  Students are heading back to school, but the bottom line is:  if you’re hungry, you can’t learn.


Programs like BackPack Buddies and School Pantries do the heavy lifting in the fight against of childhood hunger in our school communities. The numbers are daunting:  1 in 5 children in North Carolina is at risk of hunger and 181,000 students in Wake County schools are on free and reduced lunch.


In late August our community rallied together to support these students. Inter-Faith Food Shuttle partnered with WNCN, CBS17 to spread the word about the efforts being made to ensure that children have access to the nutritious food they need so that they can succeed in school.  CBS17 spent a week highlighting Food Shuttle programs that are specifically geared toward children’s nutrition and education, beginning with the Child Food Hub and BackPack Buddies, and moving on through Urban Agricultural Education at Camden Street Learning Garden, the Mobile Tastiness Machine and our partnership with area schools and School Pantries.  Each news segment ended with the news anchors directing viewers to an Inter-Faith Food Shuttle donation page on the CBS17 website.

In addition, the Wednesday noon news featured an interview with Child Hunger Program Manager Amber Simmons who spoke about BackPack Buddies and how the program has grown to serve over 80 schools in the area.  Amber summed up the program, “BackPack Buddies is for those elementary school children who apply for free and reduced lunch and who are at risk of going hungry over the weekend.  We are able to provide them with six balanced meals and two snacks to get them over the hump of the weekend and saying ‘Where am I going to get my food from next?’”


Plus, Robin Madison, Development Relations Manager, was interviewed for the CBS17 digital site and had the chance to talk about the Mobile Tastiness Machine and the myriad ways the community can support the efforts of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.


To give a gift to support Back to School programs, please visit



The Board of Directors of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS), a local non-profit that works to stem hunger in seven counties in central North Carolina, has announced that its president and CEO, David Koch, is resigning after serving as the organization’s leader for more than four years….

Mission Moment: 7-Year-Old Hadley Hayes Turns Lemons into Meals for BackPack Buddies

Mission Moment: 7-Year-Old Hadley Hayes Turns Lemons into Meals for BackPack Buddies

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