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Durham Neighbors Free Lunch Initiative

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UPDATE, 4/26/2021
With sincere thanks to all our supporters and donors, we are wrapping up Durham Free Lunch this Friday, April 30!  We've served over 40,000 meals and kept this effort going Monday - Friday, every week, for over a year.  Thank you to all who helped make this possible, please see our most recent update below for more details.  Stay strong, Durham!

UPDATE, OCT. 14, 2020
Our funding is once again approaching zero, and we need your help!

Thanks to the generous donations of the Durham community, Durham Free Lunch has been actively serving no-cost meals to folks in need for over 6 months!
- 6 Months of Service
- Over 28,000 free meals served!
- Financial support for Geer Street Garden employees impacted most by COVID19
- Distribution of veggies, canned goods, fresh bread, masks, and various other items in addition to our lunches

We are expecting to run out of funding by the end of October.  As the pandemic has continued to impact Durham's most vulnerable communities, we have seen the need for our service increase.  Every weekday, we are serving many of the same regulars who have come to depend on us for a solid meal and friendly conversation.  Can you contribute to extend this service?  If possible, now is the time.  We will continue to offer Durham Free Lunch for as long as the funding allows.  It takes about about $4,500 / week to run DFL, which provides 1000 meals!  Please contribute and share our cause if you have the means.  In service,

Durham Free Lunch

The Durham Neighbors Free Lunch Initiative is a program fiscally sponsored by local non-profit Don't Waste Durham, which is a 501(c)3 charity organization (EIN: 82-1687711).

JUNE 1, 2020.
With your support, we have raised over $50,000 and served over 7000 meals to nutritionally insecure folks throughout Durham.  The work is not done, as we continue to see a rise in the amount of folks seeking meals.  We are extending the timeline of the Durham Free Lunch Initiative to continue meal service until July 31, 2020.

To do this, we need your help.  Our current funds will last until approximately June 14.  In order to continue no-cost meal distribution through July 31, we need to raise an additional $61,000.

This is valuable work.  Take a look at the impact we have made thus far:
- Provided over 7000 free meals to Durham's nutritionally insecure.
- Increased our meal capacity from 100 meals per day to 200+ meals per day, 5 days per week.
- Transformed a local restaurant (Geer Street Garden) that was closed due to COVID19 into a downtown hub for no-cost meals.
- Provided 70 daily meals to DHA (Durham Housing Authority) neighborhoods and local childcare centers, in addition to the contactless walk up service at Geer Street Garden.
- Put 3 kitchen staff back to work at a living wage, and provided a weekly stipend to 6 more financially insecure staff.
- Purchased thousands of dollars  of local vegetables and bread, supporting Durham farmers and bakeries.
- Built a superstar squad of 35+ trained volunteers to safely serve and transport meals.
- Formed a coalition with local partners and "satellite kitchens" to further increase our meal capacity on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  (Gocciolina, Toro / Jack Tar / Littler, Durham Filling Station).
- Distributed masks, garden kits, take home vegetables, and other "add on" to thousands of our neighbors as they come to pick up lunches.

Even as the stay at home orders lift and businesses reopen, the need will not go away.  Folks were hungry before COVID19 and they will continue to be.  Please consider giving another gift to fuel our initiative and share to everyone you know. 


With humble thanks, Durham Free Lunch.


Durham Public Schools students and many of their families need food. Our homeless population is struggling more than ever to access food as restaurants and volunteer groups limit their hours, and the public becomes more reluctant to give. Thousands of workers, particularly in the service and restaurant industry, are currently laid off. The need is urgent, and the time to act is now.

In response, the Durham Neighbors Free Lunch Initiative was born. Its goal is to provide contactless FREE meals, Monday-Friday, through our local restaurant partner Geer Street Garden. These meals will be made with local ingredients, prepared by workers paid a living wage, and given to anyone who needs them, no questions asked.
As a starting point, we will provide *200+ meals per day, 5 days per week (Monday - Friday), from April 9 - TDB.

The initiative addresses the following 3 issues:

- Provide healthy, accessible meals for anyone who is food insecure. Our focus is Durham Public Schools students, our homeless population, and workers who have been laid off in relation to COVID-19. That being said, anyone in need of a meal can have it.

- Support our local farms who have lost markets for their goods as wholesale buyers and restaurants shut down.

- Put a restaurant back into service and pay a living wage to 4 employees, 20 hours per week (with more to follow), in a safe and healthy capacity.

We take the health and safety of the workers, volunteers, and public very seriously. All operations will be following or superseding the recommendations of medical health authorities. All workers, organizers, and volunteers will go through a verbal health check in and have their temperature taken before beginning shifts. All workers, organizers, and volunteers will use recommended PPE (personal protective equipment) during operations, including face masks, gloves, and approved cleaning materials. Meals will be served in a “contactless” fashion and physical distancing of at least 6 feet will be in place.

This is a grassroots, community supported, direct action food program. We feel strongly that the time to take action on hunger is right now, so we will begin serving meals this week at Geer Street Garden. Those that need food may have it, and those that can pay for their meals are welcome to. If you are able to give more than the cost of your meal, that pays for the next person. Until all are fed.

Please give a gift today if you are able!  We are also in need of volunteers, please contact us if you have the ability to volunteer.

Solidarity, not charity.
Elijah King, Founder of Youth NXT, Student activist
Grant Ruhlman, local business owner, Homebucha Kombucha
George O'Neal, local farmer, Lil Farm

The Durham Neighbors Free Lunch Initiative is a program fiscally sponsored by local non-profit Don't Waste Durham, which is a U.S. 501(c)3 charity organization (Federal Tax ID/EIN: 82-1687711).


  • Betty Jones
    • $20 
    • 3 yrs
  • Courtney Bell
    • $100 
    • 3 yrs
  • Charles Clemmons
    • $50 
    • 3 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 3 yrs
  • Lynn Poole
    • $25 
    • 3 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Elijah King
Durham, NC
Jackie Molyneaux

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