Food Bank, ECSU plan 'Sort-A-Rama' to feed area hungry


Russ Haddad


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Food Bank of the Albemarle is teaming up with Elizabeth City State University to hold a meal-packaging event April 14 to benefit the hungry across the Albemarle region.

This  first annual “Sort-A-Rama” food packaging event is designed to package more than 160,000 servings of food.

“We’re just trying to do a local version of Rise Against Hunger,” said Russ Haddad, director of community and economic engagement for Elizabeth City State University.

Haddad said that after the 2017 Rise Against Hunger community event at the Vaughan Center there began to be a discussion among community volunteers about doing a “full-blown local food packaging event.” The 2017 event combined meal-packaging for overseas relief with an opportunity to package apples for distribution locally.

The community Rise Against Hunger event was held on the ECSU campus in 2016 and 2017. There was not a similar event last year.

Haddad said that in the future there may be another effort to benefit people overseas.

The Food Bank notes that more than 55,000 people across the Albemarle region face food insecurity.

Brian Gray, communications and volunteer manager with Food Bank of the Albemarle, said 300 volunteers are needed for the event and there currently are about 80 who have signed up. Anyone interested in volunteering may sign up online at www.afoodbank.org.

Inquiries about the first annual Sort-A-Rama should be directed at Gray at 335-4035, ext. 113.

“We want to use this as an opportunity to really engage the public,” Gray said, noting teams may be formed by local businesses, churches and organizations.

Volunteers will package the food into one- to two-pound bags for distribution to hungry people throughout the Food Bank’s service area.

“This is a great way to really get a lot of meals to people in our communities in as efficient a way as possible,” Gray said.

The fundraising goal for Sort-A-Rama is to raise $25,000 to purchase the bulk food for repackaging.

Haddad said there will be opportunities for people to volunteer in different ways at different times on April 14. Noting that the event will be held on Palm Sunday, he said that church groups in particular may wish to come out after the morning worship service and pack meals from 2-4 p.m.

There also is a need for volunteers to unload supplies at the Vaughan Center from 10 a.m. to noon, set up packaging stations from noon to 2 p.m., and clean up from 4-6 p.m., Haddad said.