For more than 30 years, Child Care Services Association has provided catered meals to child care centers across North Carolina’s Triangle region through the spoonFULL program. These meals allow child care centers to purchase nutritious meals and snacks at an affordable rate, without having to maintain expensive kitchens. The program also allows directors to focus more of their attention on quality care instead of on shopping, menu planning and cooking. The spoonFULL program allows many children in the region access to meals that help them learn and succeed. The program itself provides meals along three routes in the Triangle that overlap with children living in areas where they face the highest probability of being food insecure.
To provide these meals, spoonFULL has needed a reliable partner to deliver meals safely and efficiently in time for our center partners, and for 16+ years, CCSA has partnered with Budget Courier Service to make it all possible. Budget Courier Service has been a valuable partner and an invaluable resource for our work. This month we interviewed Chris Carroll to spotlight this partnership, what it means for CCSA and how it has impacted him and Budget Courier Service over the years.
Budget Courier Service was created by Chris’s aunt, Judy Pollard, in 1988. Chris told us the backstory of the founding by sharing, “She used to do transcription services and she had this idea. [She] talked to Wake Heart Associates and, with a Ford Escort station wagon, started. It got 400,000 miles.”
From Judy starting to do courier services for WakeMed, Chris’ mother also got involved and Chris joined the team in 1989. Budget Courier Service has always been a family-focused company. This family focus continues today and is part of why we have worked so well together.
Commenting on what that means, Chis Carroll said, “It’s not about micromanaging your employees, but to treat them as friends and family. My wife works here, my brother works here, and we have other family that have worked for us. We’re really blessed with the crew we have. We have employees that have been here for over 20 years.”
CCSA and Budget Courier Service started their partnership in 2006 when CCSA reached out to Chris to see if they could explore this new delivery service. Chris and another employee then mapped the three routes out of the three kitchens in the Triangle and got the services started. It was a new service for Budget Courier Service.
Chris said, “At the time CCSA approached us we had lost a large customer and we were looking to expand the service base and so we were glad to get a route setup. It’s been a journey but it has worked out well in terms of being a team with [CCSA].”
The spoonFULL kitchens still have three routes, so we wanted to know more about the drivers behind these routes. Chris let us know that Budget Courier Service has 11 drivers, three drivers and one alternate for the CCSA routes and others assigned to daily services across the state of North Carolina. Chris also spoke about the experience the drivers have working alongside CCSA. He makes sure to train them and let them know they will be working closely with educators and children and encourages them to be good representatives of CCSA. In many cases, Budget Courier Service is CCSA’s face in the community. Chris said drivers really enjoy some of the interactions with the children.
He said, “We get to see them coming in, or outside at the fences and they get to know us, and sometime they call us Mr. Food Man. [The work] is a lot of heavy lifting, but you get those smiles from the kids, and that is what the drivers will tell you makes their day. It’s a perk of the hard work. It’s a little thing that puts a smile on your face.”
Chris himself still runs the Durham route every other week, and said, “One of the [best] things is what I was just saying, when you see the kids at the fence and they come up and say what’s up Mr. Food Man and ask what’s for lunch. At some sites in Apex and Wake, the kids are coming in at the same time we are delivering the food, and they jump out with a great big smile and say ‘Good morning.’ That is always one of the best parts of the day.”
The drivers also enjoy the meals that spoonFULL delivers. Chris told us his own favorites when he is running the route. “For me personally, quiche comes up once a month and it smells great, and you ride around in these larger vans and all you smell is the food, and you need to eat breakfast on those days or it will kill you with how good it smells. I even got some of the recipes from Bernard, [the cook] in the Durham kitchen, to try out at home.” It is great to know that not only are kids enjoying the meals, but we have some favorites within Budget Courier Service’s team of drivers too!
One thing the partnership has also done is highlight the challenges of food insecurity many young children face. Chris told us that working with CCSA made him more aware of this.
“Last year during the pandemic, we were taking food to schools all over Durham County, and that highlighted that there are so many kids you are unaware of and that when they are not in school they aren’t getting meals. That highlighted what exactly CCSA went through to provide 1,000 meals a day to these kids when they were at home. It was a pivotal moment for myself.”
Working with Budget Courier Service has allowed CCSA to respond to challenges and to raise the awareness of how important these meals are. Chris remarked on the work of CCSA’s spoonFULL program saying, “It’s so impactful. Not all kids are coming from the same background and to be able to have a stable meal, a nutritional meal like this, twice a day, it means a lot. It goes deeper than a lot of people see.”
During this pandemic, Budget Courier Service has also weathered their own challenges while helping CCSA navigate through deliveries. Chris told us that “at one point, we did lose about 50% of our business and one of our largest customers…The biggest thing was the daily stress of it, and we dealt with this with Lisa, [spoonFULL’s program manager]. And at the start of it we couldn’t find any PPE, and then we ordered it and it was on backorder for months. It was the daily stress of worrying about the drivers that were out there. What were they facing? We had a lot of sleepless nights. It was a learning experience.”
Over the last 20 months, both our organizations have had to respond to the pandemic in new ways, but we have been able to persevere through and continue to care for and support each other and our child care partners.
Since 2006, our organizations have enjoyed a great partnership, one that has allowed us to serve important meals to children that truly need them. Throughout the many years, Budget Courier Service has been a steadfast partner and allowed us to grow and support the work of child care educators and providers.
Chris said, “We are blessed to be a part of this and work together.” And we feel the same. We are thankful for Budget Courier Service’s dependability and adaptability and how their family-focused service allows CCSA to do this vital work across the Triangle.