The Transylvania Times -

By Eric Crews
Staff Writer 

TVS Exporting Food Product To Help Haiti


Two days after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in January of 2010, Karl Eastlak, president of World Hope International, stood in the midst of the devastation and held a young infant.

As he prepared to leave, the child’s father insisted that he take the baby with him.

“I can’t do that,” Eastlak recalled saying.

As tears started to well up in Eastlak’s eyes, the young father said, “We’re going to die here. I don’t want my baby to die here.”

Although Eastlak couldn’t help the baby that day, he made a promise to the young father that he would do everything he could to help in the future.

Now, with the help of Transylvania Vocational Services, Eastlak said he is “thrilled” to be fulfilling the promise he made.

“The food that you’re preparing is going to go to the children of Haiti,” Eastlak said, speaking before a standing-room only crowd gathered at Transylvania Vocational Services last Friday to celebrate the first shipment of a new food product manufactured in the county.

“These children have been getting the leftovers from the leftovers,” he said. “They will no longer get that. They’re going to get nutritious, healthy meals that will make a difference in their daily existence.”

The first shipment of the food is on the way to Haiti through a partnership with World Hope International, a Christian relief and development organization that works to “alleviate poverty, suffering and injustice.”

World Hope International will be working on the ground to distribute the food to the people who are most in need, Eastlak said.

TVS worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Services department to develop the new food, a high-quality blend of corn and soy flour, along with an enhanced blend of vitamins and nutrients to optimize nutritional care.

It is anticipated that more than 25 new jobs will be created at the Transylvania location as a result of this project.

“A whole community has come together to launch this important venture,” said Nancy Stricker, CEO of TVS. “In commercializing this product we were looking for partners to distribute to parties in need, and it was a local church that was able to make a connection for us to an outstanding international aid organization.

“Now, with support from Golden LEAF, our county, the National Industries for the Severely Handicapped (NISH) and other foundations, we are able to launch the product and bring substantial manufacturing resources to bear for producing and delivering this food.”

TVS received a $195,000 grant from Golden LEAF. Stricker said the money TVS received from the grant will be used to buy equipment to expand production.

The development of the new product came about because of a series of fortuitous moments that Stricker describes as “miracles.”

Stricker said the program could not have happened without the support of Dean Jensen, a former USDA employee who introduced TVS to the food product.

Jensen is now the program director at TVS.

She also thanked Dave Blackburn, the pastor of Brevard Wesleyan Church. He was instrumental in connecting World Hope International to TVS.

Since it was founded in 1967, TVS has provided training, support and employment opportunities for thousands of people with disadvantages, disabilities and other barriers to employment.

TVS is also currently one of the finalists for a $3 million McGovern grant that will allow TVS to continue to produce the emergency food product for three years.

That grant will be awarded at the end of this month.

Gold LEAF Foundation

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999.

The foundation receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state.

The foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission.

The foundation has awarded 1,110 grants worth more than $511 million since its inception. To learn more about applying for a grant, visit or call (888) 684-8404.


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