Lucy Bush Carter is the Executive Director of Friendship Trays, a nonprofit organization located in SouthEnd Charlotte. Friendship Trays is the only non-governmental Charlotte-based organization creating and delivering healthy meals to elderly and infirm community members in their homes. Friendship Trays produces over 700 meals per day and operates with a volunteer base of over 1,300 volunteers. It takes 101 volunteers per day to deliver the meals throughout Charlotte. Lucy began volunteering with Friendship Trays in 1985, she was then hired as staff in the 1990s, and became Executive Director in the 2000s. In this interview, Ms. Bush provides an interesting perspective in regards to the mission of Friendship Trays, daily operations, the creation of Friendship Gardens, and food distribution throughout Mecklenburg County. She explains how Friendship Trays introduced the concept of Friendship Gardens in Charlotte, started the Urban Farm (now located at Garinger High School), the collection of produce they acquire and how Friendship Trays incorporates fresh produce into their meal program.
|0:01:23||History of Friendship Trays|
|0:02:27||Local churches that sponsored weekly lunches for elderly in Elizabeth|
|0:02:56||Original model of delivering meals|
|0:03:47||1989 Friendship Trays makes decision to upfit kitchen at St. Martin’s to prepare meals themselves|
|0:05:17||Beginning of the collaboration between Friendship Trays and Friendship Gardens|
|0:06:27||Partnered with Slow Food Charlotte|
|0:07:12||Expanded the program to establish urban farm|
|0:07:47||Purpose of Friendship Gardens|
|0:08:17||Food used by Friendship Trays to produce meals, first farm at a nearby prison|
|0:09:27||Partnered with J. L. North to start seeds in greenhouse|
|0:10:27||Access to good, healthy food as a shared initiative|
|0:11:59||The Bulb, partner organization of mobile units for mobile farmers markets|
|0:13:15||Democratic National Convention model legacy programming|
|0:14:32||Volunteers working the Friendship Garden at Garinger High School plot|
|0:15:27||Types of produce received from the farm at Garinger|
|0:16:38||Growing season in Charlotte, amount of produce received|
|0:17:43||Faith organizations that bring mission groups to Friendship Trays|
|0:18:22||Salad Dressing Pilot program as a fundraiser|
|0:19:29||Front office staff ensuring Friendship Trays has enough volunteers|
|0:20:47||Friendship Trays providing more than just food but also peace of mind to families|
|0:21:22||Lucy tells the story of a long time volunteer delivering to a man who had fallen and broken his hip|
|0:23:07||More than just food – Talking about food volunteer|
|0:23:22||Service routes and food routes|
|0:24:07||Talks about her time as a volunteer and how she began by taking her two year old son with her|
|0:24:53||Established a weekend meal program through Presbyterian Hospital|
|0:25:29||Talks about the human interaction that the service provides|
|0:25:56||Talks about her time as a volunteer and the different types of clients served|
|0:27:20||A story of a client who lived in a garage apartment|
|0:28:12||Lucy expands on her personal relationship with clients and caring for them even after the meal service has ended|
|0:29:22||The challenges of working in a economically segregated city and diverse range of clientele, primary challenge is finances and funding|
|0:30:22||Declining government interest in taking care of people and reliance on nonprofit s|
|0:31:12||Revenue generating streams and need for new ideas|
|0:32:03||Fundraising for Friendship Trays and Friendship Gardens|
|0:32:39||Collaboration with existing nonprofits and corporations|
|0:33:33||Lucy explains the misconception between food capacity and food distribution|
|0:33:55||Problems with food distribution in Charlotte and compared to Atlanta|
|0:34:24||Income segregation and gentrification in neighborhoods Friendship Trays once served|
|0:35:17||Lucy thinks Charlotte is waking up to the major problems in the city|
|0:36:47||Mobile market concept and location of markets|
|0:37:18||Network of gardens in food deserts|
|0:38:09||Collaboration with Loaves and Fishes for clients in Renaissance West|
|0:38:32||Lucy explains that Friendship Trays would deliver pantry items from Loaves and Fishes Pantry|
|0:39:19||Satellite distribution model|
|0:39:49||Begins to wrap up interview|
|0:40:07||Lucy ends by talking about a moral responsibility to provide people with their basic needs|
|0:42:03||Responsibility as human beings to take care of each other|
|0:42:30||Talks about members on staff|
|0:42:44||Conclusion of Interview/Thanks|
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Years ago, I’ve had a-
>> Rachel McManimen: Okay, so today is Wednesday, March the 6th, 2019 at 10:41 AM. My name is Rachel McManimen, and I’m interviewing Lucy Bush Carter, who is the Executive Director of Friendship Trays. Friendship Trays is a non-profit organization whose mission is to deliver nutritious meals to elderly or infirm individuals in the Charlotte community who are unable to obtain or prepare their own meals.
While also providing human connection to the isolated and lonely, and peace of mind to their families. Friendship Trays is the only non-governmental Charlotte-based organization creating and delivering healthy meals to elderly and infirm community members in your homes. We are currently interviewing at the Distribution Street Kitchen located in South End Charlotte.
In today’s interview we will be discussing the network of Friendship Trays. Primary themes of our interview will include Friendship Trays, community gardens, the relationship with Friendship Gardens, and then food distribution in the Charlotte area. [LAUGH] Mouthful. So I know in our tour you gave us a little background story, but I was wondering if you could explain a little bit more about the history of Friendship Trays.
I mean, you said it got started in 1976, so it’s been a long history of non-profits in this area.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: So in the mid-70s there were a number of well established non-profits that were created at the same time, within a year or two of each other, by strong women in this community.
Crisis Assistance Ministry was created, Friendship Trays was created, Community Food Rescue was created, and Loaves and Fishes, all within a year or two of each other. Responding to a community need. So Friendship Trays started in the Elizabeth neighborhood. It was an offshoot of a weekly luncheon that the Elizabeth Service committee, or I don’t know if that’s exactly the right name.
But there was a consortium of churches comprised of St Martins Episcopal, St John’s Baptist,
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Hawthorne Lane United Methodist, and Caldwell Presbyterian, that sponsored weekly luncheons that took place at St. Martin’s for elderly in the neighborhood. Cuz at that time, Elizabeth was a neighborhood filled with a lot of older people.
Some of the people became infirmed and unable to get to the luncheons. So they did a survey in the neighborhood and determined that they would like to receive meals in their home. So the original model was to purchase meals from the hospital, which was in the neighborhood. Both Presbyterian and Mercy Hospital are in the Elizabeth neighborhood, and they began purchasing diet-specific meals from the hospitals and delivering them.
So I believe they started with five individuals out of the basement of Caldwell Presbyterian and grew from there. So we stayed in St. Martin’s. The offices were established at St. Martin’s, they delivered originally from Caldwell but the whole operation was centered at St. Martin’s pretty quickly. And continued the practice of purchasing that specific meals from hospitals and nursing homes as we expanded beyond Elizabeth.
But then in 1989, we made the decision to up fit the kitchen at St. Martin’s so that we could prepare our own meals. We did a capital campaign, and raised that money, and partnered with St. Martin’s to utilize their kitchen for the delivery of meals. So we did that until we maxed out.
We used the kitchen at Saint Martin’s until we maxed out at 400 meals. And at that time, Bruce Parker was on the board and knew that we were looking for space to create a kitchen, and said I have a warehouse space in this area of Charlotte that is in a pretty rough area.
And the board struggled with whether it was safe for volunteers to come here. But now fast forward to 2019 and we are in the midst of one of the hottest developing areas in the South East. It’s really amazing what has changed and what has happened in this area over the years.
So we laugh about the board being worried about searching for volunteers because we’re kind of in the lively, active, all the time part of Charlotte where young people are gathering, and riding scooters and [INAUDIBLE].
>> Rachel McManimen: [LAUGH] So how did the collaboration between Friendship Garden and Friendship Trays begin?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Well, another staff person and I went to Atlanta to a conference, and at the conference we became aware of a program in either rural Kentucky or Tennessee. I don’t remember which, but basically they were utilizing a garden to provide fresh produce for people that lived in poverty that came to these centers for services.
And they would be able to give them fresh vegetables to take home. And the other employee looked at me and said, we could do that. So we came home, she was already an avid backyard gardener. We came home and we told Bruce we would like to have a garden, and he said you can put it here.
So behind the building next door that he at that time was leasing was just a vacant area that was not being used for anything. And we partnered with Slow Food Charlotte, who had a lot of passionate people about local food and a lot of gardeners, and we created a demonstration garden down there.
We made raised beds out of pallets. And we grew an amazing amount of tomatoes, and okra, and squash, and eggplant, and peppers, and all sorts of things in that little demonstration garden for a number of years. We wanted to expand on that concept, so we applied for funding from both Wells Fargo and the Women’s Impact Fund, and got funding to expand the program to include an urban farm.
So we established an urban farm and and we called it Friendship Gardens.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: We toyed with whether it would be gardens, farm, what would be the name, but we just kind of settled on Friendship Gardens. And it is not a separate program, it’s not a separate 501C3, it is an integral arm of Friendship Trays.
And part of their purpose in addition to teaching healthy growing practices is to provide food to come into the meals here. So that we can elevate the quality of the food and and use as much local as we can that’s attainable and affordable. We serve an at-risk population of people, so we have to serve them good quality food.
So most of our food that we utilize and the products we utilize are purchased from a wholesaler. But we infuse the meals as we can with local produce that comes in through this network of gardens and from the urban farm that is now at Garinger High School. The first farm we had was at a prison.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: The warden actually approached us and said, we really don’t need a baseball field, but it’d be great to have a garden. So we used some of the funding from one of the sources that we had established. We had a staff person, a part-time staff person that oversaw it all.
But we plowed the field and created a little urban farm there at the prison. And several of the prisoners, as their work portion of their confinement, worked in the garden with Henry, who was the program director. And so when his family came to visit on the weekends, he would give them fresh produce that he had grown.
Cuz in addition to what they grew for us, they could have their own plots that they could grow some of what they wanted to. We also partnered with Jail North to start seeds in their greenhouse. And so the inmates there would start seeds, deliver them here, and then people in the garden network could come here and pick up the seedlings to plant in their gardens.
We started with a handful of gardens, and now there are over 100 that are in the network. Not all those bring things here, but a lot of them do. And it’s just been a remarkable partnership and way for people to get involved in something that they’re passionate about.
It brings a different volunteer kind of profile to us. The garden part versus the meal delivery part and the prep part. But it’s all tied together, and we like to, as we frequently talk about, we want more people to have access to good healthy food. And that’s an initiative that crosses programmatically among the non-profits in Charlotte that deal with hunger and feeding people, is make access to healthy food more readily available.
So that’s kind of the common ground that both Friendship Trays and Friendship Gardens gets its sort of focus around.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: And I really am pretty sure that our food system is quite in need of evaluation and reorganization. And we wanna do the part that we can do, because we’re serving people who are homebound, they have chronic illness, they may be recovering from surgery, they may have cancer, they may have other diseases that good nutrition and healthy eating can make a tremendous difference.
And we want to be that vehicle that brings that opportunity to eat in a healthy way to them, so.
>> Rachel McManimen: Right, and now, are you guys partnered with any other organizations that do that as well?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Well, we’ve partnered, there’s an organization that you may have run across called The Bulb.
>> Rachel McManimen: Yeah, we saw that just when we were researching Friendship Gardens, it had Friendship Trays and The Bulbs.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Right, so Alisha Pruett is the young lady behind The Bulb, and her goal is to develop out a network of mobile units from mobile farmers markets.
>> Rachel McManimen: That’s cool.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: So she actually is currently doing the mobile market for us at the transit center. We try to get as much donated food to her from the garden and from other sources, to help her have the things to offer. But she does that market, she does the Rosa Parks market that’s out on the Beatties Ford Corridor for us.
And then she does some others that I don’t know where they are, but those are the two that we have the agreements for the markets with. Another thing in the development of Friendship Gardens was that in 2010 the Democratic National Convention was here. And the model that they chose for the convention was that it was not gonna be something that just came and happened and was gone.
That they wanted some legacy programming to be attached with that. So we got funding, the local committee helped us get funding from Humana to do the mobile market and to partner with some build-outs of gardens. So we did that, and that’s what gave us the seed money to start the mobile market at the transit center.
And we have just maintained that over the years. So from our perspective the legacy has continued, cuz we still have that mobile market.
>> Rachel McManimen: For sure. Now, I wanna go back to ask a specific question about Friendship Gardens, because you said, here in the distribution kitchen it’s largely driven by volunteers and also out in the field delivering meals.
Is the Friendship Garden also primarily volunteers who work the Friendship Garden? I know you mentioned the program director, but outside of him, is that something that volunteers you rely very heavily on?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: We do utilize volunteers during the growing season. It’s at Garinger. Depending on how the horticulture program is going and run, some of the students get involved with our plot at Garinger.
There is a farm manager, a part-time farm manager, and he does the planning, and maintains the crops, and organizes the volunteers. So again, like Wells Fargo, we’ll send a crew here, Wells Fargo sends a crew there. People that have a passion about gardening like to volunteer there, so it does rely heavily on volunteers.
>> Rachel McManimen: Right, and what types of produce do you receive from the Friendship Garden?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: From the farm at Garinger?
>> Rachel McManimen: Yes, yes.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: We get sweet potatoes. We get butternut squash. A lot of herbs, garlic.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: I believe they grew some onions last year. They try to come and talk to the kitchen staff, and ask them what is most helpful.
And they also try to plant things that have a long shelf life, like the sweet potatoes and the butternut squash. They don’t do tomatoes anymore. They did. There was a really rough year with tomatoes, there were a lot of issues, everybody had issues with tomatoes. And-
>> Rachel McManimen: Yeah.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: And we just thought we’ll just stick with some of the things that just have a longer shelf life, cuz that works better for us. I mean, they’ll bring us sweet potatoes and we have sweet potatoes curing, we have a warehouse across the street and we have sweet potatoes curing over there for months.
>> Rachel McManimen: Wow, and how much produce you receive from the garden at Geringer and do you receive it all year long or is it kind of depending on the harvest and what time of year that you receive it?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: We’re really fortunate in Charlotte that the growing season is very long.
So this is about the only time there’s really not anything coming in from over there. We brought in about 11,000 pounds in 2018, so-
>> Rachel McManimen: It’s a lot of produce. [LAUGH]
>> Lucy Bush Carter: That’s a lot of produce. And like I said, we have this salad dressing pilot project going on.
And they grew a lot of oregano, parsley,
>> Lucy Bush Carter: I believe it was just oregano and parsley. Maybe thyme, I’m not sure, and garlic.
>> Rachel McManimen: Garlic.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: And the processing of all of that was very labor intensive. It was fortunate that we did have a good, strong crew of volunteers in and out of here in the summer to help do that.
We partnered with some faith organizations that bring mission groups here in the summer time. There’s a program called Cross Mission that Maris Park Presbyterian manages. And volunteers will come from more rural areas throughout the South to Charlotte, stay at Maris Park, and then they send them out to the community to do volunteer work.
And they have volunteers here for a portion of the summer, three days a week. And so that was a great resource for processing those herbs that needed to be grown and processed for the salad dressing.
>> Rachel McManimen: And is that pilot program still continuing or?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: It’s over.
>> Rachel McManimen: It’s over.
Did it not work out how you thought it would?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: It was a great pilot, we learned a lot, it was delicious salad dressing, and they taste tested it with children in schools. The idea was that a school would sell the dressing instead of selling wrapping paper. That they would be involved with the growing of the herbs and the production of the salad dressing, and then that would be the PTA sales project.
That takes a lot of organizing, and marketing, and storytelling, and developing, and we just aren’t equipped, staff-wise, as you can see. You see what our staff does, and the front office staff is making sure we have enough volunteers to deliver the meals, and making that efficient for the volunteers so that they’ll come back again.
Cuz we tell people you can do this on your lunch hour. And it’s a great way to volunteer for busy people that don’t really have a whole lot of time, they can usually carve out a lunch hour once a month to deliver meals. And we have volunteers that come once a week, we have volunteers that come once a month, twice a month, that come as needed, we call them if we need substitutes, and they can say yes and they can say no.
But our volunteer coordinators are totally focused on making that a meaningful, efficient experience for the volunteer. Cuz we want them to come here, get the meals, and then spend their time interacting with the people they’re delivering the meals to. Because they are isolated and they don’t see people, and as you said in your opening remarks, we provide peace of mind for families.
Because they know that they can work more focused at their job because someone is going to check on their grandmother, or their aunt, or their mum at lunch time. And we’re gonna let them know if they find something that’s wrong. And we have found people that have fallen, we’ve found a woman who had fallen at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning on the way to the bathroom and laid on the floor till the volunteer came.
She knew somebody was coming but she had to wait until they got there. And another story that I was involved in was of a longtime volunteer, one of the original volunteers back from St Martin’s in the mid 70s still was volunteering. This was probably maybe 15 years ago now, but she went to deliver her route and she called and she said I’m pretty sure Mr. Jones is on the dining room floor.
I’m talking to him but he can’t get to the door, and I think he’s fallen off, I think he’s on the dining room floor now. So we’ll call 911, and if you wait until they get there and I can get there, we’ll go from there. So I pulled his emergency contact, his emergency contact was his niece, and she lived in Morrisville.
And the volunteer stayed there, when I got there, the firemen were there, the medics were there, and the police were there. They had broken in the house, and he was on the dining room floor, and he was arguing with them because he wanted to wait until his niece got there before they took him anywhere.
And they said, Mr Smith, we’re pretty sure you have broken your hip. And he said well, I need a weight for my niece. Well, I walked in, and I looked down at him, and I said, I’m Lucy, I’m from Friendship Grace. Now, he didn’t know me. I said I will call your niece and talk to her, and make sure she knows where you are.
And let’s let these nice gentlemen go ahead and take you to the hospital, and he said, okay. So off they went, he had broken his hip. He was 98, living at home alone. He was 98, he’d broken his hip, had his hip repaired. Another volunteer that delivered to him regularly baked him a birthday cake cuz he had his birthday while he was in the hospital, and she took him a birthday cake.
He recuperated, went to rehab, came back home, and we continued to serve him for another year or so before he wasn’t able to stay at home alone, but that’s the kind of thing that happens. And the volunteers get very connected to the people that they’re serving.
>> Rachel McManimen: And we saw your big service map outside your office, with multiple different routes.
Now your regular volunteers, do they stay? Do they drive the same routes?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Most of them do.
>> Rachel McManimen: They do.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Now, the substitutes go wherever we need for them to go, but there are a lot of people who have their own route. When I started as a volunteer when my son was two I was looking for a volunteer activity I could do with him.
And we had a route in Dilworth, and we delivered to the same people every week. And we had an older gentleman who was 99, and he didn’t have any family, and he looked so forward to my two year old and I coming to visit, and we got to be really good friends with him.
And on Monday For years we delivered on Fridays, but we switched, then delivered on Mondays. And I would go on Monday and he wouldn’t come to the door and I twice had to have the police come and break in. What happened to him was he stayed in bed all weekend, we didn’t deliver on Saturdays and Sundays.
And he didn’t get out of bed, and by Monday he was dehydrated and confused and it was our call and attention to it that kept him alive.
>> Rachel McManimen: Right.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Really and truly. And we helped with that, that was one of the stories that they used to establish a weekend meal program that Presbyterian Hospital did.
And when volunteers went on Saturdays and Sundays, he was fine on Mondays, but that happened two Mondays that we had to take him to the hospital because he was not in good shape because he was so dehydrated.
>> Rachel McManimen: That’s so sad. That just shows the need for, I mean that establishes we do need someone on the weekends, or some type of capacity because people do need that both interaction and the nutrients from the food.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Sometimes I think the nutrients from the brief interaction are more important than the food. I know they are. I’ve seen it and you hear it when people call. There’s one man that calls every day and the reason he calls is to talk to somebody.
>> Rachel McManimen: So when the volunteers go and they drop off the meals, do they typically go in and sit and chat, or what are those interactions?
You were a volunteer, so can you tell me a little bit about your experiences dropping off meals and chatting with the clients?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Well, there are as many different examples as there are people.
>> Rachel McManimen: [LAUGH]
>> Lucy Bush Carter: There was one woman on my route who we would pull her meal out and make her last because she was going to talk for a long time And this is when we were doing hot meals.
That two-year old is 35.
>> Rachel McManimen: [LAUGH]
>> Lucy Bush Carter: But we would have to restructure the route so that Mrs. Ballard was last so we could visit with her because she would not let you leave until she was done. Yeah, she was bed ridden and she was lonely and she wanted to talk and she was delightful.
It was fun to talk to her. And then you have other people that take the meal, say thank you or leave a cooler out, sometimes that’s out of necessity. We served people that are on dialysis, and so frequently they will be at dialysis when we come to deliver.
But fortunately the meal was waiting for them when they come home, and they can have their lunch. But there are some people that wanna visit and there are some people that just wanna say thank you and take the meal. We had another woman who lived in a garage apartment that was very reclusive, but she was so fascinating, she had grown up in downtown Charlotte.
Near the Baptist church, near the first Baptist church which wasn’t where it is now, I don’t believe, I think it was closer to downtown. And she tells stories about when she was a child, walking to church and she was so fascination and so entertaining, which they eventually moved her to a nursing home.
And we visited her in the nursing home after she wasn’t even on the program anymore. And the gentleman that we found on Monday, I actually took him to Aldersgate. And his caregiver, by this time he was 98 or 99 and his wife had died, they didn’t have any children and this was his wife’s best friend that was his caregiver, and she was kind of skeptical of me.
She didn’t understand what, she thought there was something I wanted, which I just wanted him to be safe, but she got me, he didn’t want to go anywhere. And she got me to take him. And she didn’t tell him that he wasn’t coming back home. And I did it because that’s what she needed.
But he didn’t live very long after that. He didn’t want to be there, he wanted to be home.
>> Rachel McManimen: So I’m gonna switch gears a little bit and ask, what are some of the benefits, I think the relationships, definitely a large benefit. But also the challenges of working with community gardens or meal services like this.
Especially in the Charlotte area and it seems like, just the way the city is segregated and the common food deserts. And the clientele that you certainly, he said there’s such a need in Charlotte. What are some of the challenges that you face in your experiences?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Well, the primary challenge is money.
We spend between $400,000 and $500,000 a year with the food wholesaler. And that’s on the food. The containers that we send them in, the price of those containers goes up every year astronomically. So everyday between $500 and $600 of what we spend on the meal in a day is for the containers.
They are 22 and 23 cents a piece. So you’ve got .50 cents in containers in every meal.
>> Rachel McManimen: Mm-hm.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: So the funding is challenging. And that’s challenging for nonprofits, period, whether it’s ones that serve food or whatever it is they’re doing. Funding is challenging. As government becomes less and less interested in being involved and thinking care of people is their responsibility, they’re reyling more and more on the faith community and on nonprofits.
And there is no way we can pick up the slack that, that leaves. There is no way, because every time some government funding happens, even if a different mindset comes in there and they want to focus on services, they don’t ever restore what they took away. And then it’s my belief that nonprofits have got to figure out, and whether it’s friendship trays or trying to find the fundings for friendship gadrens.
We have to figure out revenue generating streams. Like the salad dressing, to bring in revenue that we’re not putting our hands out and saying, just give me. What can I sell that is not mission creep.
>> Rachel McManimen: Mm-hm.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: So for instance, we lease the kitchen during down times for food trucks and small food purveyors.
And they pay us an hourly rate, and they pay us for shelving and dry storage. So that’s one of the ways we try to generate revenue. And the daycares, serving the daycares. Although those are subsidized because they again are serving low income people, they still contribute to an income stream for us that helps tremendously.
And one of the realities for us is last year we did have the best fund raising year we ever had. And that’s Friendship Tries and Friendship Garden combined, cuz we don’t. They’re restricted gifts that come to both. But when I say we raised over a million dollars in funding that’s both of us together.
It was the best year we ever had, and we still were short and did not finish the year in the black. And that’s not sustainable over time, so I believe that collaborations with other non-profits, and with corporations, with the business sector-
>> Rachel McManimen: Yeah.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Are answers and solutions.
What can you do to help us, but what can we provide for you so it’s not just one sided, that you’re giving to us? We want it to be something that is mutually beneficial for your employees.
>> Rachel McManimen: And that’s kind of the distribution and financial resources challenge on the left side-
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Yes.
>> Rachel McManimen: And not necessarily the food capacity?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Right.
>> Rachel McManimen: A lot of food here-
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Right.
>> Rachel McManimen: Food is donated. And like the loaves of bread that you showed, tons of them.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Right, more than we can use.
>> Rachel McManimen: Yeah, it’s good thing you got that freeze then.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: [LAUGH] It is a distribution challenge. World wide it’s a distribution challenge. There’s enough food to feed people in the world and it’s so dysfunctional that there are hungry people. And there are.
>> Rachel McManimen: Mm-hm.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: But it’s not because there’s not food to provide for them, it’s that we don’t have the distribution and will power and desire to do it.
>> Rachel McManimen: Do you think Charlotte has a unique distribution issue, as compared to the Atlanta operation that you saw or just-
>> Lucy Bush Carter: I think the segregated nature of how,
>> Lucy Bush Carter: The systems have operated for years with intentionality to keep income segregation at play. And all of the gentrification that is going on, and the redevelopment in neighborhoods that we once served older low-income people on fixed, living on social security and disability.
Those people are gone and have been replaced by either renovated or torn down and rebuilt houses for people with names. And then we have not done, we have not done a good, and we know that, we’re 50th out of 15 in upward mobility capacity. And our system has kept us that way.
I think we’re, our eyes are being open to that, whether we will respond is the next phase of Charlotte.
>> Rachel McManimen: Could you tell us a little bit more about the transient drop off system that you were explaining out there? Because I think that offers a unique perspective on how we’re getting to food to people that can’t walk to Publix, or Harris Teeter and things like that.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Right.
>> Rachel McManimen: And kind of live in these outside areas of this readily available access to nutritious food.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Right, well the food desert issue is because grocery stores don’t go into low income neighborhoods because they can’t survive. There’s not much mark-up on food.
>> Rachel McManimen: Mm-hm.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: It’s the other things that a grocery store sells that keep them going, the cosmetics, the, you know things-
>> Rachel McManimen: Toiletries.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Toiletries. The other than food items that there’s the mark-up on and the way they make their money, there’s not much mark-up on the food. So, trying to level the playing field so that the people that even live in those areas, that don’t have the grocery stores, there’s been some efforts to try the effect of small mom and pop type markets that are in those areas.
I really don’t know a lot about that, I just know there’s been conversation. And part of the mobile market concept is if there is a Family Dollar that does sell a lot of highly processed foods I mean least they’re selling food. But could you locate a mobile market near there to enable the people that can get there to also have access to fresh produce?
That would be a way to go about that.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: And the other thing is the network of gardens has a possibility to connect people with, here’s this community garden in your neighborhood, you can have a plot, you can grow.
>> Rachel McManimen: Right.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: So there needs to be a coordinated effort among different non-profits and groups, a collaborative model to have those touch points work more logically and efficiently.
For instance, we are in conversation with Loaves & Fishes to,
>> Lucy Bush Carter: To create a system by which their clients who live in Renaissance West, which is out off of West Boulevard, can get pantry food items delivered to them. There’s a pantry that is relatively close in distance to Renaissance West, but they can’t walk there, there is a highway in between.
And it’s not feasible for them to be able to walk there, let alone come home with a weeks worth, or however with the groceries. So what we’re talking about is developing a system where the client, the Loaves & Fishes client can call or go online and place an order.
And then we would have one of our volunteers pick up the order from the pantry, and deliver it to the client because we’re going into Renaissance West to deliver meals anyway. And so, we’re working on that right now. We use the satellite distribution model, so that we’re getting the meals for a neighborhood in Matthews closer for both the volunteer and the people to safely get that meal delivered to them.
But we need to work on more out of the box way and ideas to improve that system.
>> Rachel McManimen: Well, we’re coming up on our time limit, and I know you are a very busy woman. [LAUGH] But I just wanna ask you if there’s anything else that I didn’t mention that you would like to talk about, or any stories you would like to tell us or anything in general?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Just that I think we have a moral responsibility to provide people with their basic needs. We need to feed them, we need to make sure they’ve got a decent roof over their head, and have a means of sustaining themselves, whatever that is, a job. And I think Charlotte has a tendency of be sort of siloed in its approach to things.
And I know that our efforts with Friendship Gardens and with our partnership with Loaves & Fishes, and the Bulb, and the other things that we’re all partner together with, we’re trying to do more to solve more of the problems. And I think other non-profits have to think along those same lines we don’t need any more non-profits.
We need the ones we have to figure out how they can combine energy and forces with others and meet the need and not come up with anymore, any new programming. Cuz, I’ve been around long enough that I have seen so many trends come and go. We’ll start talking about a problem and I’m like yeah, 25 years ago we had this project that was supposed to solve that problem.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: We just need to figure all that out, and figure out how to take care of people that can’t take care of themselves, it’s our responsibility.
>> Rachel McManimen: Mm-hm.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: It’s our responsibility as people to take care of each other, and I just think we need to work hard to figure that out.
And then Charlotte might one day be a world class city if we figure that out. We’re not now, and we’re fooling ourselves if we think we are cuz there’s too many people that don’t have what they need.
>> Rachel McManimen: Some great concluding thoughts.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: [LAUGH]
>> Rachel McManimen: It was a pleasure speaking with you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to give us a tour-
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Sure.
>> Rachel McManimen: And speaking with us.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Glad to.
>> Rachel McManimen: Can I just ask two clarifying questions?
>> Lucy Bush Carter: Mm-hm.
>> Rachel McManimen: Friendship, how many members you have on staff.
>> Lucy Bush Carter: We have 10 full-time and about 11 part-time staff members