Turquoise LeJeune Parker, a North Carolina elementary school teacher, raised more than $100,000 to buy groceries for her students and many others to take home over the holiday break.
Mrs. Parker, local attorney T. Greg Doucette and a band of volunteers were able to procure enough food so that more than 5,000 students – or “professors” as Parker calls them – in Durham Public Schools could go home with over 12 pounds of food for the two-week break.
Mrs. Parker’s Professors Foodraiser is an annual tradition that began seven years ago after a parent asked Parker where her family could find food over the break.
Parker, who had been working at Eastway Elementary School, soon realized that if one family needed help, others probably did as well.
She immediately texted every contact on her phone for help.
“I’m trying to send each of my 22 kids home with a bag of non-perishables to help their families with them being out for Christmas break. If you know anyone wanting to donate, let me know,” Parker wrote during the 2015 holiday season.
That Christmas, everyone in her entire class went home with food. A year later, they were able to feed an entire grade and in 2017, two grades went home with food.
Parker’s “foodraiser” gained so much support that they were eventually able to feed children within multiple schools with all the donations.
This year, they were able to feed more children than ever before.
Food insecurity is a major concern in Durham, especially for low-income people of color. WTVD has been tracking it with an Our America Equity Report by ABC-owned stations. Nearly three-quarters of Black and Latino residents don’t have access to supermarkets within walking distance.