In the spring of 2014,Â Aja Mitchell became theÂ Parkwood Elementary PTA Secretary and headedÂ up the PTA’s Family Missions Committee. Through her work on that committee, Ms. Mitchell, pictured at right with fellow C0-ChairÂ Lesley Neely, became aware of the significant school lunch debt that was accruing on the accounts of children in need, and how widespread food insecurity was in the Parkwood community. Ms. Mitchell and her husband, motivated by theirÂ desire to eliminate hunger at Parkwood, worked with local grocery stores to purchase food and established the Parkwood school pantry. That first summer, they spent their own money to support about 12 students. That Fall, PORCH-Durham offered support for the pantry, and the PTA soon rallied to provide a budget for Ms. MitchellÂ to work with. By December of 2014, they were stocking the pantry with additional food purchased at a discount through the Food Bank of North Carolina, and serving 33 children.
Today, Aja leads a multi-faceted program aimed at reducing hunger among students at Parkwood Elementary and in the surrounding community.
Aja’s vision is that there might be a pantry in every school someday. PORCH-Durham continues to support the Parkwood community, along with many other partners. To find out more about the Parkwood PTA Family Missions Committee and how to start your own school pantry, you can email Aja.