Welcome to PORCH Chapel Hill-Carrboro!
MissionPORCH is an all-volunteer, grassroots hunger relief organization whose mission is to collect and distribute food for families going hungry in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro community.
How PORCH WorksPORCH is built around the very simple idea of a neighborhood food drive. Here's how it works, in three easy steps:
- Once a month, on a designated day, residents place a food donation (such as a can of soup or tuna) on their front porch.
- A volunteer neighborhood coordinator goes porch to porch and picks up the food donations.
- The donated food is transported by car to a central location where it is sorted, packed, and then delivered to local food pantries.
Food for FamiliesThis unique program provides healthy, fresh food (including fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, and chicken) to 380 families identified by school social workers as being especially at risk of hunger. Three bags of fresh food, along with one bag of non-perishables, are provided monthly to these families. This supplemental food can make the difference between a healthy and a skipped meal.
Food for PantriesCanned goods and other non-perishable items are delivered each month to twelve local food pantries, evening out the ebbs and flows of their ongoing needs. PORCH communicates regularly with each of these pantries to ensure our donations are meeting requested needs:
- Carolina Cupboard
- Compass Center for Women and Families
- Dobbins Hill Family Resource Center
- Freedom House Recovery Center
- Lutheran Services Carolinas
- Meals on Wheels of Chapel Hill-Carrboro
- Orange Congregations in Mission
- Orange County Department of Social Services
- Rogers Road Community Center
- St. Joseph CME Church
- Triangle Church
- UNC Children’s Primary Care Clinic
- UNC Family Medicine
- UNC Internal Medicine
Food for SchoolsThis program gets healthy snack foods into the hands of children who need them the most: hungry kids unable to focus in the classroom. The applesauce, raisins, granola bars, and other healthy snacks keep both body and mind nourished. Each of the 19 schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, as well as the district-wide pre-K program, receives $500 worth of healthy snack foods from a local business sponsor each school year. Three local after-school programs are also receiving fresh, nutritious snack foods provided by PORCH monthly.
Food for ThoughtOne in every six Chapel Hill-Carrboro residents is living below the poverty level and one in every four children in the public schools qualifies for a free or reduced price meal. Through its Food for Thought program, PORCH educates the public about the severity of hunger right here at home through monthly emails, newsletters, journalism, social media, and public speaking.
PORCH CooksThis program provides nutritional information and easy-to-prepare recipes to families enrolled in PORCH’s Food for Families program. A team of professional nutritionists and dietitians developed the program aimed to encourage families to cook with the fresh fruits and vegetables provided in their free food bags. Each month, two recipes and educational nutrition flyers are distributed to food recipients. Cooking demonstrations and food tastings are done monthly.
Christine Cotton has an MBA degree from Elon University and an MS degree in Anatomy & Cell Biology from SUNY Upstate Medical University. For 10 years, she worked as a pharmaceutical project manager and director of market development at Banner Pharmacaps. Upon moving to Chapel Hill with her husband and two sons, Christine served as the executive director and was a founding member of the Children’s Fund of North Carolina, a Chapel Hill based non-profit organization raising funds to support the health and wellbeing of North Carolina’s children. She has also been very active in the public schools, serving as president of several school PTAs and as a board member of the Public School Foundation. Christine currently works as a project consultant for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. It is the combination of her devotion to volunteerism, dedication to serving others, and professional marketing background that led Christine to the founding of PORCH. She hopes to continue to utilize her skills and compassion to develop PORCH into a continuously growing organization that will be relevant in and beyond the local community for years to come.
Debbie Horwitz grew up in Chicago, graduated from the University of Michigan, and luckily landed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina after 8 years in the DC suburbs. Debbie’s experience in the business world as a real estate appraiser, breastfeeding counselor, and parenting educator has given her useful knowledge in her journey to her position as director of PORCH. But, Debbie would credit the running of her household as the mother of four children as the most valuable and practical job for developing the skills needed to operate an organization like PORCH. While raising kids, one learns firsthand the importance of patience, organization, thoughtfulness, responsibility, cooperation, and compassion. In addition to these skills, she has years of experience in hunger relief volunteering for various local non-profits including the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service and her synagogue, Judea Reform Congregation. She has also been actively involved in volunteer work with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Debbie manages PORCH Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s fresh Food for Families program. Her favorite parts of the job include working directing with the families PORCH serves and the local school social workers, recruiting and managing wonderful volunteers, managing the finances, and collaborating with the many other organizations that partner with PORCH.
Susan Romaine is one of the three founders and directors of PORCH and she also sits on its Board of Directors. After earning a B.A. in history from the University of Virginia, Susan served as a legislative aide for U.S. Congressman Harley O. Staggers, Jr. She then earned her master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago, after which she became an associate at Charles Rial Associates, an economic development consulting firm based in Chicago. She relocated to Boston where she served as associate director of the Tax Equity Alliance for Massachusetts. She then moved to the Washington, D.C. area where she worked as a research analyst for Service Employees International Union. In 2004, Susan moved with her family to Chapel Hill where she pursued her labor of love in hunger relief while also volunteering in the public schools and with her church, St. Thomas More Catholic Church. In 2013, she was elected vice chair of the Orange County Democratic Party and in 2015, she founded Orange County Living Wage. From these various endeavors, Susan has gained a wealth of experience in public relations, organizing and coalition-building, volunteer recruitment and training, and administrative and managerial duties that serves her well in her role as director of PORCH. She considers the founding of PORCH – with her friends Christine and Debbie – to be the most rewarding achievement of her career.
Board of Directors
Alicia Altmueller has been an active community member since the day she moved to North Carolina over 11 years ago. She incorporates her years of work experience in the nonprofit world into all of her volunteer efforts at local groups such as PORCH, Book Harvest, Weaver Street Market and Judea Reform Congregation. When not serving PORCH, Alicia can be found in her garden or biking around Carrboro with her family.
Ginny D’Ercole has lived in the Chapel Hill area with her husband Joe since 1974. During her career as a social worker for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and UNC Home Health, she became deeply aware of the unmet food needs in our community. Now that she is retired, PORCH allows Ginny the opportunity to continue to look for simple ways to get food into the hands of neighbors without enough to eat.
Julie Grill had a career in various entrepreneurial businesses in the medical device industry for over 25 years. As part of her role, she raised significant funds through state and federal grants for product and business development, and she brings that experience to grant writing for PORCH.
Fran Hamer retired in 2003 after 32 years working in the pharmaceutical industry to join her husband Bob here in Chapel Hill. During her retirement, Fran has devoted her free time to the nonprofit world, running PORCH’s flea market, volunteering with the American Red Cross, helping to launch the Karen Youth Art Group through the FRANK Gallery Community Outreach Program, and establishing a nonprofit organization providing educational and social services for the refugee community.
Laura Malinchock the mother of three growing boys, has seen firsthand the speed with which children can empty a well-stocked fridge. She can only imagine the stress parents face when their monthly budgets are stretched too thin to adequately feed their growing children. Helping to relieve at least a little bit of this stress is a very important cause, one that Laura is proud to support over the past six years through PORCH. Her primary duties include using her marketing degree from Virginia Tech to promote our hunger relief effort within the community, assisting with the distribution of non-perishable foods to local pantries, and supporting the Food for Families program by packing and delivering fresh produce to local families. Outside of her work with PORCH, Laura is active in the PTAs at hers sons’ schools and sits on the parent committee of their Boy Scout troop.
Lynn Scattolini is a retired executive who formerly worked for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She served as a trustee of the Chapel Hill Public Library and on the boards of the Family Violence Prevention Center and the Compass Center for Women and Children since moving to Chapel Hill a decade ago. She is filled with gratitude for the opportunity to serve her adopted community as a volunteer with PORCH.
Many thanks to St. Thomas More Catholic Church at http://church.st-thomasmore.org/for serving as PORCH’s staging area for its Food for Pantries program each and every month. We are most grateful to these businesses that partner with our Food for Families program each month:
- Transplanting Traditions Community Farm for providing traditional vegetables and herbs, and eggs to the refugee families we serve from Burma. Local refugee farmers are paid to grow produce that is donated to PORCH.
- Book Harvest for the free books donated each month to any child participating in our Food for Families program.
- Farmer Foodshare for providing access to surplus produce from local farmers offered to PORCH at discounted prices.
- Maple View Farm for its 60 gallons of milk donated each month.
- Weaver Street Market for its Community Food Partnership which has raised $130,000 for PORCH over the past three years. Weaver Street Market helps stretch the value of raised funds by purchasing fresh produce at cost for PORCH, packing the produce, and delivering it to PORCH delivery sites each month.
- Harris Teeter for its bundles of donated paper bags and its discounted prices for produce and milk.
Thank you to our 2017-18 Food for Schools sponsors:
- Carrboro United Methodist Church
- Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
If you can’t feed 100, feed one. – Mother Teresa
It all began with a few cans of tuna.
In the throes of the recession in 2010, Christine Cotton, Debbie Horwitz, and Susan Romaine came up with a simple idea to help neighbors without enough food to eat. The three friends reached out to a few of their neighbors in the Lake Hogan Farms development in Chapel Hill, inviting them to leave cans of tuna on their porch. On a designated day, they would then go porch-to-porch, pick up the cans, and bring the haul to a local hunger relief organization packing cans of tuna into its weekend backpacks.
What began as a small neighborhood food drive has grown by leaps and bounds. PORCH (People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Homes) now hosts monthly food drives in 150 neighborhoods. The wide variety of donated non-perishables – everything from boxes of cereal and granola bars to bags of beans and rice – restock the shelves at a dozen local hunger relief organizations. Month after month, year after year, all of those porch pick-ups add up: PORCH has now delivered $1.6 million in hunger relief for Chapel Hill-Carrboro homes. Together, its affiliates in Chatham County, Charlotte, Durham, Hillsborough, Raleigh, and several other nearby cities have matched that relief.
The power of one: one time a month, one neighborhood coordinator, one street, one porch, even just one canned good. If each of us steps up, it’s amazing what we as a community can accomplish. Try feeding one yourself. It may take you to a place you would never have imagined in your wildest dreams.