(WGHP) — Akir Khan has Greensboro running through his veins.
“Born on the third floor. Moses Cone Hospital,” he said. “Attended Dudley and Northwest Guilford High Schools.”
He later went on to earn his doctorate based on higher education studies and was working in the aviation field when one of the mosques in Greensboro sponsored what The Out of the Garden Project calls its Mobile Markets.
Those are times when Out of the Garden brings thousands of pounds of fresh food that it provides free of charge to people who need it.
The number of people who showed up at that event changed what Khan wanted to do with his life when he saw the need.
“I’m surprised, but I’m also very disappointed,” Khan said. “The government cut SNAP benefits which results in about $200 less for every American family. That’s a lot of money. If you go to your Food Lion, your Harris Teeter, $200 of groceries fills your family up for maybe two weeks. So if you’re taking that away from the American families, how are you going to replace that?”
He says that went into effect when President Biden declared the COVID-19 emergency was over last May.
“Even if COVID went away, the demand for food did not go away,” Khan said.
“Most the people who come through are hard-working Americans. They take every job that they have the opportunity to do. They’re mechanics. They work at the grocery store,” said Beth Crise, Out of the Garden’s assistant director.
Too many of those people couldn’t afford the food they were stacking in the grocery stores in which some of them worked. Crise says it’s a need even kids understand.
“You ask any elementary schooler, you ask any kindergartener, what does an organism need to survive? And they’ll tell you, ‘food,’” Crise said. “We all have a seat at this table. We all have a voice. We all have the opportunity to have fresh food and feed our family. It’s something we can all understand. We’ve all had hunger pangs at some point in our life. It’s just that we have different abilities to meet those hunger pangs and alleviate the hunger.”
Khan asked if he could join Out of the Garden’s board of directors. When he began to learn how it all worked, he knew what he had to do.
“When I saw the demand of the cars being wrapped around the church to get food, I realized that our finances were not where they needed to be,” Khan said.
Over the years, Out of the Garden has relied mostly on food donations from businesses in the area. But for the first time, they have a GoFundMe account to help with what seems like an ever-increasing need. The cash from the GoFundMe is particularly effective because it allows Out of the Garden to fill in gaps in what they can provide.
“Especially high-need items that everybody likes: rice, potatoes, onions. Those are things that are part of the staples along with the meat, and we don’t get a lot of donations for that,” Crise said.
“We live in the greatest country in the world with so much opportunity, but we have to support these Americans who need help, now,” Khan said.
See how the mobile markets work and just how much food The Out of the Garden Project provides in this edition of The Buckley Report.