James Gardner is a busy man . A high school science teacher , father of five and husband of a pediatrician , James has plenty on his plate . Yet he spends much of his valuable free time ensuring hungry people in the Greensboro community have food on their plates .
James serves as director of the Positive Direction for Youth & Family ( PDY & F ) community garden . The garden provides fresh produce for people in need and also offers education on growing and cultivating plants .
For James , the endeavor is truly a family affair . PDY & F was founded 30 years ago by his father-in-law , the late Otis Lockett , Sr ., who also founded Evangel Fellowship church and Malachi House , a residential treatment facility for men . James and his wife Faith have volunteered for years with both PDY & F and Malachi House , working as GED instructors and in other roles .
“ We ’ ve done a lot of things , primarily around giving youth an outlet so they don ’ t end up on the streets ,” James says .
A few years ago , PDY & F began focusing on food insecurity . When a family experiences food insecurity , it means not every family member has access to enough nutritious food to sustain an active , healthy lifestyle . According to recent figures from the nonprofit North Carolina Justice Center , North Carolina ranks 10th in the nation in food insecurity . And according to the nonprofit Feeding America , one in seven North Carolinians don ’ t have enough to eat , and one in five children live with hunger .
PDY & F opened a food pantry to provide nonperishables and refrigerated foods such as milk and eggs to people who need them . But when COVID hit , they realized more needed to be done . Knowing James grew up gardening with his family , Faith suggested he start a community garden to supplement the pantry ’ s outreach .