WILMINGTON, N.C. — Project Venture's annual service project in Wilmington was a huge success Wednesday afternoon. A group of middle schoolers from D.C Virgo Preparatory Academy made a meal completely from scratch and then took a trip downtown to serve it to those in need. 

What You Need To Know

  • According to Feeding America 1 in 7 people in North Carolina struggle with food insecurity

  • Middle school students came up with the idea of serving a warm meal to those in need 

  • Project Venture provides students a service opportunity like this every year

The students' first learning experience came with preparing the meal and learning to work together, but the next lesson came as the steaming bowls of chili, fresh cornbread and homemade brownies were handed out along with smiles, acceptance and love. Erin Ditta with Project Venture has been working to help the students understand who the people they're serving are since the day they chose this project. 

Students in the process of making chili.

“It makes me proud,” Ditta said. “Proud that they talked through that and were able to come up with something that they all as a group collectively felt passionate about.”

So far in 2022, there are over 9,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given day in North Carolina and according to Feeding America, nearly 1.5 million people in North Carolina are facing hunger.

“Having that conversation and realizing that some people go through hard times,” Ditta said. “Everybody just is a person and needs to feel like that sometimes.”

After they finished serving, the students actually sat down and got to know the people they're helping. Ditta hopes they set an example for the adults in the community and maybe inspired some to take a second look at ways to help those in need of a warm meal and friendly smile. 

“One of the conversations we had is not everybody who is coming is necessarily homeless but may be in a time of need where they just need a meal and conversation with somebody else,” Ditta said. 

Understandably, going downtown to serve the food was a little daunting to the middle schoolers, but it wasn't enough to get them to give up their eagerness to lend a hand.

“I'm just scared, but I'm also happy too because I'm helping people that need it and want help,” India Williams, a middle schooler in the program said. “I would love to help them out.”

Erin Ditta helps a student chop onions for the chili.