North Carolina Teacher Raises $106k, Spends it All at Costco to Ensure Students Are Fed Through Holiday Break

Food insecurity is a major concern in Durham, and 98% of the students in this school district receive free or reduced lunch. Approximately 5,106 children will now be fed through the holiday break.

A North Carolina teacher raised $106,000 thanks to donations from those in her community. Turquoise Lejeune Parker used all of the funds to buy groceries at Costco to help feed approximately 5,106 students in Durham Public Schools through the holiday break.

Parker spent last Wednesday afternoon in the gymnasium at Lakewood Elementary School filling paper bags with bread, mac and cheese, beans and other groceries that she will be giving to all of the students at the school.

The idea to collect donations for food came about during the holiday break in 2015 when a parent in need approached Parker. “This all started with one family, one family sent me a message in 2015,” Parker said. “This mom said we don’t have anything at all, I don’t have anything for my kids.” 

Each year, they have been able to feed more and more children. “We were able to feed the whole grade level, then two grade levels, then the whole school, and then three schools and it kept growing,” Parker said. 

Parker said this year, through the help of donations, they were able to raise more than $100,000 and feed all the students at 12 different schools in the district.  

Food insecurity is a major concern in Durham, especially for low-income people of color. Of the 12 schools where students are getting bag loads of holiday groceries, 98% of them receive free or reduced lunch at school. For many, schools provide their only meals.

“We owe this to everyone who is suffering from systemic oppression,” Parker said. “Our folks are struggling to provide the very basic need, food and water and a place to live, that’s ridiculous.” 

Image source: North Carolina African American Heritage Commission