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Rowan Helping Ministries takes over Food for Thought

SALISBURY — On Tuesday, Food for Thought came under the umbrella of Rowan Helping Ministries.

The local nonprofit group was launched in 2008 with a mission to provide backpacks full of food for students in need to take home over the weekend. Over the years, it has grown from serving 10 students at Overton Elementary School to serving more than 600 across Rowan County.

But time has come for a change, say leaders of the agency.

In May, then-Executive Director Carol Herndon announced she was leaving her post to work for the local school system. Herndon and Erin Wood, president of Food for Thought’s board of directors, anticipated that there might be some restructuring both to handle Herndon’s exit and to prepare for more growth.

In the end, agency leaders decided to form a closer partnership with an organization that has been supporting the backpack program for years — Rowan Helping Ministries. For the past few years, Food for Thought has operated out of a basement storage room in the shelter’s Robertson-Stanback building. It was there that bags were packed with food and readied to ship out to schools for Friday distribution.

“The two nonprofit organizations have similar missions and have enjoyed a productive affiliation for many years,” Wood said in a news release.

The merger became effective Monday.

Locally, nearly 28 percent of Rowan County children were living in poverty in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly 65 percent of Rowan County children receive free or reduced-price lunches, and 12 of the county’s 35 public schools provide free breakfast and lunch to all students.

A full-time program director will be hired to coordinate the Food for Thought program and to provide a single point of contact for its daily operations. This person also will manage other Rowan Helping Ministries community food programs.

Herndon and Libby Post, a Food for Thought board member, will join the Rowan Helping Ministries board of directors to provide ongoing leadership and direction for the program.

Herdon, Wood and Rowan Helping Ministries Executive Director Kyna Grubb anticipate that the move will reduce operating costs for the program, as Food for Thought will be able to use existing shelter operations. Rowan Helping Ministries will handle Food for Thought’s accounting, fundraising, marketing and volunteer coordination.

“Most importantly, this new structure will allow Food for Thought to focus on expanding to serve even more children whose health and school performance are affected by the hunger they experience when they don’t get nourishing meals consistently,” Grubb said. “Food for Thought will retain its branding, its name, logo, mission and vision as it joins our family of programs.”

Food for Thought’s success has been dependent on the work of a large corps of community and church volunteers, donors and school personnel, Herndon said, and their continued involvement will be important as Food for Thought moves forward.

For information about volunteering for Food for Thought, contact Brynn Smith, volunteer coordinator for Rowan Helping Ministries’ shelter services, at 704-637-6838, Ext. 117, or at bsmith@rowanhelpingministries.org.

For information about how to make a financial contribution, contact Kyna Grubb at 704-637-6838, Ext. 101, or kgrubb@rowanhelpingministries.org.

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