GREENSBORO, N.C. (WFMY) – For Jon Lowder, housing and food insecurity often go hand-in-hand, especially in his world.
Lowder is the Executive Director of the Piedmont Triad Apartment Association (PTAA), and explains that he and the members of the association see the challenges a lot of the people they serve face.
“Part of the process of providing housing is they get to know the people very well,” Lowder said. “I think they see the food insecurity that people are experiencing up close.”
Because of that, Lowder has gone outrageous lengths to raise awareness and money for summer hunger and children through Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.
“We were looking for a way to motivate our folks to raise more money and food, so, I issued a challenge,” Lowder explained. “if we make our goal, which that year was I think 150,000 meals or cans… I would get my head shaved.”
And it’s only snowballed from there.
“Every year it was, ‘What are we gonna do?’ And then instead of it being a challenge to make the goal, it was, ‘Well if people will throw in a little extra money, I’ll do something, whatever they come up with.’”
Like going bald… again! Climbing 78 flights of stairs with a real fire hose in honor of first responders from 9/11, running 367 miles in 68 days, and jumping into a pool with a pink tutu, tiara and heels.
Every penny he raises goes to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, “the primary source of food for a network of more than 400 food assistance programs” in our area.
For every dollar, the food bank is able to prepare seven meals for those in need.
“It may sound like I’m doing some relatively silly things for not that much money, right?” Lowder noted. “But let’s say it’s 500 dollars… Well, that’s 3,500 meals because it’s 500 times 7. That’s a lot of food for a lot of people!”
According to Daisy Rodriguez, Director of Childhood Hunger Programs for Second Harvest, 1 in 4 children, and in some areas 1 in 3 children, are hungry, especially during the summer when school is out.
“Hunger doesn’t take a vacation,” Rodriguez said. “Families are concerned where they’re going to get their breakfast and lunch that they get during the school year.”
Second Harvest has 26 feeding sites throughout Guilford and Forsyth counties, which are feeding the over 35,000 children on free and reduced lunch in the entire Triad area, and sometimes many are still not able to access those meals.
For perspective, there are over 800,000 children throughout the state facing food insecurity, and even through all its efforts, Second Harvest is unfortunately only able to reach 15% of them.
“It’s pretty, pretty grave here,” Rodriguez reiterated.
And Lowder says, “If all it takes is me doing something silly to get that amount of money to them, then I’m happy to do it, it’ the least I can do.”