Kerry Sherrill

Imagine yourself at the grocery, with dinner, lunches and breakfasts to plan for the week.  You push the cart along the aisles, but none of the foods you need seem to be available. Instead, there is an odd assortment you don’t quite know how to adapt to the way your family eats.  You need healthy fresh ingredients…fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk…but of these there are none or few.  You wish that the grocery had thought more about the way its neighbors lived before it stocked its shelves.  You wish they had simply asked what you needed, instead of presuming it.

Kerry Sherrill, the social worker at Frank Porter Graham Bilingue School, and before that at Carrboro Elementary…“A great community-minded place!” she enthuses… thinks that helping to feed people ought not to be so one-sided.  The needs she sees not only in the families of children at the school, but also as a long-time activist for PORCH, don’t reflect what’s on the shelves at many food pantries in our community.  “If we are really going to help people in a culturally competent way,” she says frankly, “that is, a way that gives them dignity and recognizes who they really are as people, we have to understand how they live so that we can truly meet those needs.  We have to ask them.”

So, it’s no surprise that Kerry believes that, of all the programs she has worked with, PORCH is the best at reaching out to their clients personally and culturally.  According to Susan Romaine, Kerry has herself to thank for leading the program (and trying to convince other organizations) to recognize the ways that different communities think of nutrition.  Kerry first met Susan and Debbie Horwitz, two of PORCH’s founders, while they were parents at the school.  Kerry began to think about what food really meant to her clients, and when PORCH got started, helped them understand the necessity of including fresh foods.  Kerry, for her part, celebrates Susan, Debbie and Christine for their enthusiasm in taking on that important task.

It all comes down to mutual understanding, they agreed.  They first explored how the Karen community, refugees from Burma, lived. One of their leaders, Khukhu Juelah, invited them to tour her kitchen to talk about food; they even took pictures of their meals.  When you come to know who you are feeding, it’s easier to put aside general (and often mistaken) assumptions, Kerry emphasizes. The women continued with Latino families and refugees from Syria and the Congo.  The fresh food component allows families to cook in the healthy and diverse ways their cultures have taught them.  While Kerry was explaining that, this writer was thinking:  what if, as we filled our bags each month, we, too, could picture the kinds of families who would use those ingredients?

PORCH, Kerry says, gives both volunteers and recipients a way of coming together.  “The thing I love most about volunteering at the pickup sites,” she says, smiling broadly, “is seeing those families come in, greeting and engaging us and each other in continuing conversations week by week.  It’s a very social atmosphere!”  Kerry laughs, “And isn’t volunteering all about the people we meet?”

She often sees the eagerness with which PORCH recipients step up to help in return.  One group of parents, whose children were helped by a grant to go on a school trip, volunteered a Saturday to repaint the school buildings in cheerful colors.  Another came to landscape and trim.  The facelifts cheered everyone.  “Children born in refugee camps grow into teenagers who, like their parents, also learn to give back,” she says.  Even reluctant teens can be cajoled to help carry bags, push carts, and translate.  Having a useful place in a community is essential to all of us, Kerry reminds us, and sharing food can be a vehicle to that…if we show up to the plate, too.

                                                                           Rachel Victoria Mills, for PORCH

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Daily Tar Heel: The other side of summer

Later this week, school lets out for over 12,000 students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Most of these students eagerly await leisurely summers dotted with s’mores, sprinklers, and sidewalk chalk. But, for the nearly 3,500 CHCCS students receiving free or reduced price meals, there can be a very different anticipation to summer. What will they eat for breakfast and lunch now that they no longer have access to school cafeterias? How will their family stretch its SNAP benefits to cover the two extra meals a day? For these 3,500 students, hunger doesn’t take a vacation. It can be that nagging mosquito that you keep trying to swat away, but it just keeps coming back – until it’s all you can think about, it’s all-consuming.

Read more:

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Faces of PORCH Anna and Scott Falk

Anna and Scott Falk know a good thing when they hear about it… several things, in fact.  In May, their friend and neighbor, Kathryn Chan, called to say that PORCH was in immediate need of help at our monthly sort and delivery, so on the Falks came to lend a hand (or four).  Retired lawyers who last August moved down from West Hartford, Connecticut (“What?” Anna says, surprised, “you’ve heard of it?”), they looked south to Chapel Hill and Carrboro and settled in the one place that knew what they needed…neighbors close by, sidewalks and few steps to walk for coffee and a bite.  Meadowmont suited them and their twin girls, now students at Culbreth Middle School, just right.

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BBQ Fundraiser March 30

The UNC Kenan-Flagler business school student body is hosting a BBQ fundraiser for PORCH on Saturday March 30th. Please join us at The Morgan (5205 Barbee Chapel Rd, Chapel Hill) and bring $10 for ALL YOU CAN EAT BBQ AND OPEN BAR. 100% of the proceeds raised will go directly to PORCH.

What: BBQ Fundraiser for PORCH

Menu: Texas Brisket, Beer, Wine and more!

When: Saturday March 30th, 2019 from 12:30 – 2:00PM

Where: The Morgan Pavilion (5205 Barbee Chapel Rd, Chapel Hill)

What to bring: $10 (cash or venmo) and a Texas sized appetite

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Medici Benefit Night April 15

Dine at Medici Italian Kitchen Monday, April 15 from 6pm-10pm and they will donate 15% of proceeds to PORCH! Proceeds exclude alcohol sales.

Medici is located at 100 East Franklin Street in Downtown Chapel Hill. Visit their website for menu information and reservations.

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Daily Tar Heel: PORCH nonprofit continues to grow in and beyond Chapel Hill

The Daily Tar Heel profiles PORCH!

Read the article

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SONAM Fall Concert Benefitting PORCH, November 8

PORCH Neighborhood Coordinators:

Join us for a very special choral music concert benefiting PORCH by the widely acclaimed SONAM (Singers of New & Ancient Music).

Thursday, November 8 at 7:30 pm
Judea Reform Congregation
1933 West Cornwallis Road, Durham
Click here for a map and directions.

SONAM’s benefit concert will feature music of peace and togetherness in honor of the 100th anniversary of the armistice ending World War I and the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht. You’ll hear works by Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Aitkin, Tomkins as well as a Holocaust Cantata composed by Judea Reform Congregation’s very own music director, Allan Friedman.

The suggested donation is $10. Donations will be accepted at the door in lieu of tickets. Checks are made payable to PORCH Chapel Hill.

For more information on SONAM, visit Or, email PORCH Board Member Lisa Josephs at

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Food For Schools Sponsors

With the new school year upon us, PORCH Chapel Hill-Carrboro would like to thank our Food for Schools (FFS) sponsors for the 19 public schools and the pre-kindergarten program in our school district. With the support of these local businesses, we are able to provide a generous supply of healthy snacks for students needing additional nourishment to tide them over during the school day.

“Teachers and social workers often reach into their own pockets to offer snacks to hungry students,” explains FFS Coordinator Lynn Scattolini. “We are so fortunate here in Chapel Hill-Carrboro to have the backing of our generous business community to help defray that cost.”

Our Food for Schools Sponsors are:

  • Amy Guskiewicz, Fonville Morisey Realty
  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro Sunrise Rotary Club
  • Elefante Financial Services
  • Ellis Family Dentistry
  • Erika Buchholtz, Erika & Co. for Your Home
  • Frederick G. Lehmann, DDS PA
  • FurnitureLab
  • Great Clips – Carrboro Plaza and Meadowmont
  • Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Outreach Ministry
  • Kitchen & Bath Galleries
  • Martha Newport Realty Group
  • Meadowmont Dentistry
  • Scroggs Family
  • Southern Village Pharmacy
  • Stuckey & Boyd Financial Services
  • Caren Parker, Terra Nova Global Properties Inc.
  • The Christine Khoury Team
  • Tony Hall & Associates, Residential Real Estate

For information on sponsoring snacks in a local after-school program, contact Becky Hebert.

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Chapel Hill Magazine: Women’s Issue Profile

Debbie Horwitz, Susan Romaine and Christine Cotton are featured in the May/June issue of Chapel Hill Magazine.

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Spectrum News: PORCH Hosts Community Event

Spectrum News interviewed our three founders to talk about PORCH and our PORCHfest community gathering.

Read more and see the interview at–porch-hosts-community-event-.html.

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