Meet Food for Schools Sponsor Alex Nickodem of Terra Nova Global Properties

Community Partners

It’s no coincidence that Alex Nickodem, a realtor with Terra Nova Global Properties, is signing on as a Food for Schools (FFS) sponsor at the same time his son is about to enter kindergarten in Chapel Hill. 

“My family thankfully does not deal with food insecurity – I never could imagine our son not having adequate food,” he says. “Sometimes, I’m sure the teachers have to provide [supplemental food]. I was thinking about all the teachers I know who have to have GoFundMe campaigns to meet their needs in the classroom.”

FFS provides supplemental food to students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools who are hungry and struggling to concentrate. Through FFS, PORCH Chapel Hill-Carrboro provides each school with $1,100 worth of snacks in a school year – $550 at the beginning of the school year and $550 after the holidays. The snacks – cheese crackers, granola bars, applesauce, apples, protein bars, trail mix, fruit bars, and more – are purchased in bulk, brought to a central location, and sorted. Then, school social workers pick up the healthy snacks on a designated day each semester.   

Once the social workers divide the snacks among grade levels within their school, students simply let their teacher know when they are hungry and would like a snack to tide them over during the school day. Each school nurse gets a supply of snacks, too, a vital resource when students aren’t feeling well and need some sustenance.   

To learn more,  check out our recent feature on this program.   

“Teachers ask for this,” says Laura Olley, the social worker at McDougle Elementary, of the FFS program. “The kids ask for snacks. Kids rely on free breakfast and lunch at school, but they’re hungry [between meals]. Parents donate some snacks, but that’s only a fraction – it’s not enough. This covers the gap.” 

Alex is dedicating his FFS sponsorship to Hannah Jennings Murphy, a good friend who is a dedicated art teacher at Ephesus Elementary. 

Alex is a member of the East Chapel Hill Rotary. In 2013, he moved to Chapel Hill from Greensboro with his wife in order for her to attend law school at UNC. A former Habitat ReStore employee who got into real estate in 2018, Alex now donates five percent of all of his profits to Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. 

Currently, he is working to expand his commitment toward affordable housing by helping Habitat create a group of supporters from within the real estate community that can provide sustaining donations, volunteerism, and advocacy.

“It’s logical to me,” Alex says of giving back to the community. “It’s so engrained in me. It’s an ethical way that businesses have to operate.” 

Half of Alex’s clients in 2022 were first-time homebuyers. “There’s a lot of magic in it. … handing over that key for the first time to them,” Alex says.

Last year, one client didn’t know his offer was accepted, and Alex showed up with a bottle of champagne to share the news. “He started walking around with his head in his hands, and he started crying,” Alex recalls. “Completely speechless. An amazing moment.” 

View our full list of FFS sponsors and learn more about becoming a sponsor.