2023 NC YMCA Anti-Hunger Heroes Named

Charlotte Y Anti Hunger Heroes pohto

Congratulations to several North Carolina YMCA staff who were named YMCA of the USA Anti-Hunger Heroes for their work to support healthy food access in their communities! We’re especially excited to recognize them during Hunger Action Month.

  • Ana Butters, YMCA of Greater Charlotte
  • Debbie Owens of Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA 
  • Erica Porter, YMCA of the Triangle
  • Taylor Russell, Alamance County Community YMCA 
  • Katrina Somers, Armed Services YMCA Ft. Liberty

Cheers to these all stars and all the Y staff (and volunteers!) across the state who play a vital role in connecting children, adults, and seniors with access to food and resources!

  • Ana Butters, Community Development Director for YMCA of Greater Charlotte is the navigator and connector for immigrant and newcomer families in her community. Since the pandemic, she has organized monthly pop-up food shares with Loaves & Fishes, the local food bank distribution agency, and become a referring agent for regular “prescription” food withdrawals as well as social service support resourcing. To date this year, 760 families have been served in food shares and 27 families in food referrals this year, thanks to Ana’s dedication.
  • Debbie Owens, Director of Administration, Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA, helps coordinate volunteer efforts around the Share the Harvest Community Farm at the Y, established in 2015 as a grassroots effort to alleviate hunger in the community. This community collaboration run primarily by volunteers grows, harvests, and donates an average of 12,000 pounds of fresh produce to the community each year. The farm is on track to harvest up to 14,000 pounds in 2023 (pending growing conditions)!
  • Erica Porter, Director of Workforce Development, Southeast Raleigh YMCA (YMCA of the Triangle), oversees free community drive-through food distributions, including recruiting volunteers and organizing partner resources. Erica has led this work since October 2020. Last year, the Y distributed more than 143,000 health meals, serving 5,245 people, including adults and kids, and engaged 200+ volunteers. The Y also provided parenting resources, including more than 12,700 diapers to 216 children and 1,200 books. All the fresh produce, meat and eggs were intentionally purchased from local and black owned farms, providing more than $136,000 in support to them in 2022.
  • Katrina Somers, a military wife and mother, volunteered countless hours at the Fort Liberty Food Pantry before becoming the pantry manager. She works tirelessly for the junior-enlisted military families experiencing food insecurity, which is 25% of those residing on Fort Liberty and in the surrounding area. She tends the pantry garden to collect fresh vegetables each week, and she receives produce deliveries weekly before dawn, and she also collects bread from a local bakery one evening a week. Katrina added a mobile food pantry that delivers quarterly to military neighborhoods outside Fort Liberty and regional VA hospitals. She provides a dignified twice-weekly shopping experience for those visiting the pantry, and she is committed to researching agencies and resources that help families make nutritious choices while also assisting them with their financial health. 
  • Taylor Russell, Food Access Program Coordinator for the Alamance County Community YMCA, works diligently to orchestrate and delivery of warm meals to nearly 300 children each day during the school year and during summer camp. The Y’s Food Access Program is funded through grants and generous private donations and includes delivery of meals afterschool to various sites beyond the Y.

    (September 12, 2023)