The Transylvania Times -

Community Effort Brings Food To Locals In Need – Brevard, NC

 

Last updated 2/17/2021 at 3:28pm

The pandemic has meant extra protocols in place to handle and distribute the boxes.

For 40 continuous years Sharing House has provided food to people in need.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, nearly a year ago, Sharing House started packaging fresh produce boxes to give to neighbors in crisis every Tuesday afternoon.

This need for fresh produce continues today in Transylvania County, and Sharing House has worked hard to continue this weekly service and improve it through meaningful coll-aborations with other nonprofits and businesses, according to a press release.

"The peak was 274 boxes a week," said Pantry Manager Pam Schou. "Fluctuations happen each week, so we have had to be flexible, depending on holidays, stimulus check deliveries, and unemploy-ment variations."

In pre-COVID-19 times, Schou led "Manna Express" monthly events that provided free fresh produce, with recipes and cooking demonstrations with samplings.

During the pandemic these gatherings have ceased, but Manna Food Bank, the Western North Carolina regional distribution agency, has continued to deliver free boxes of produce once a month.

Sharing House decided to increase the free produce boxes to every week, made possible only by the generosity of the Pisgah Health Foundation and the Transylvania community.

This summer, a new partnership with Neighbors in Ministry, best known as Rise & Shine, has permitted fresh produce to continue to be provided to the Rosenwald community and Transylvania County at large.

Around $2,000 worth of fruit, vegetables and eggs are ordered each week. It arrives on Mondays, when dedicated volunteers start the multi-step process by lining reused empty milk boxes, donated by Sav-Mor grocery store, along the walls and benches of the now vacant lobby.

They carefully load lettuce, potatoes, cabbage, onions, apples, oranges, peppers, grapes or tomatoes into these sturdy boxes.

Staff members must tiptoe and maneuver themselves to get to the copy machine and answer the phones.

On Tuesday, a second group of volunteers arrive at 9 a.m. to continue this process.

The lobby, previously teaming with neighbors, has now turned into an efficient produce box assembly line.

Each box is topped off with a fresh carton of eggs and a donated bread or bakery item from Food Lion or Ingles grocery stores (depending on availability there may even be a cake).

A third set of volunteers between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. load each of these boxes into cars, trucks or shopping carts in the drive-thru alleyway next to the building.

Masks are mandatory, and neighbors must stay in their vehicle to limit in-person contact.

Filling a Need

Neighbors with low income are eligible to receive a government supported TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) box monthly, which are delivered and distributed by Sharing House.

These include dried beans, rice, pasta, canned vegetables or meats, juice, and canned or dried fruit such as raisins.

In addition to the TEFAP box, Sharing House supplements these with additional items that community members and organizations donate; enough food for one week, dependent on household size.

This includes extra cans of soup, frozen meat, cereal or grits, condiments, cooking oil, sugar, flour, milk, or cheese.

Also, cleaning supplies, such as dish and laundry detergent, and personal hygiene items like women's sanitary products, tooth brushes and toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and soap are provided through a partnership with Project Dignity.

Baby diapers and wipes are also generously provided in the collaboration with another nonprofit, Babies Need Bottoms.

"We encourage donors to give us fresh food," said Schou. "Produce is expensive, and it's difficult to purchase on a tight budget."

The Farmers' Market vendor Calee's Coops drops off fresh eggs on weeks Casey and Michael Lance do not sell all of their product.

In addition, county vendors, such as Gaia Herbs, bring over surplus produce and vitamin supplements throughout the year.

Rice Street Community Garden's goal is to produce fresh, organically grown, sustainable crops for the food-insecure population of Transylvania County.

Volunteers grow this produce at their garden in town and all of it is donated to Sharing House and the soup kitchen Bread of Life, as soon as it is picked and ripe.

Being Healthy

The pandemic has shed light on how vulnerable people are to illness with underlying health con-ditions such as diabetes and obesity, the release said.

Among Sharing House's many volunteers who help with the program are (left to right) Janice Hinter, Martha Post, Mary Ellen Farley and Sterling Post. (Courtesy photos)

Eating a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables can help prevent or limit these health challenges.

"We are working to create a healthy and sustainable community," Schou said.

She emphasizes sourcing local vendors when possible and in-season produce that creates a sustainable cycle of neighbors eating locally-grown food.

If you know someone who would benefit from Free Produce Tuesdays, please share this information.

Drive through pick-up happens most Tuesdays from 2-3 p.m. at the Sharing House building, located at 164 Duckworth Ave. in Brevard.

Please call us for more information at (828) 884-2866 or visit http://www.sharinghouse.org/free-produce-tuesdays.

This effort is only made possible by the continual and generous food and monetary donations by community members, the release said.

 
 

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