Food Donations? Hold the PICKLES!

by Leah McGrath
Corporate Supermarket Dietitian (Ingles)

Nov 13, 2014

Recently I was asked to judge a chili and cornbread cooking contest at Swannanoa United Methodist Church, a small, modest church in the Swannanoa Valley just off of Highway 70 and about 2 miles from Ingles corporate offices and distribution center. Their former minister proudly escorted me upstairs to the Sanctuary to see their stained glass windows designed by an Asheville artist.

The area around the church has been depressed since the Beacon blanket plant across the street closed in 2002. In 2003 an arsonist’s work resulted in the plant structure being burnt to the ground.

Each Wednesday, Swannanoa United Methodist church, in cooperation with other local churches and volunteers hosts and serves a Welcome Table for the community providing a free, hot, luncheon meal for those in need. Typically they serve 75-125 people and rely on donations and food from Manna Food Bank to make the meals. As fellow judge and Welcome Table volunteer Jackie Kitchen pointed out, “Sometimes this is the only hot meal these people get all week.”

We did our judging for the contest in the kitchen seated at colorfully painted stools. As I glanced around the room I saw the shelves of canned and jarred products lining the opposite wall. Chuck Werle, one of the volunteers, pointed out that these donated supplies are used to make the meals.

I couldn’t help but notice two shelves full of black olives in all different sized jars from industrial sized to small jars and another shelf full of all sorts of pickles. As a dietitian my first thought was, “What the heck will they ever do with all those olives and pickles?” So this is what prompted me to write this blog.

When you are donating to food banks and for food drives please “Hold the pickles”…and the olives. Make sure your donations can help these caring and dedicated volunteers prepare healthy and nutritious meals. Please don’t donate items that you don’t want just to clean out your pantry.

donationsHere are some tips:
1. Check with the food bank/pantry or shelter and find out what they need most. Do not donate perishable items without checking first.
2. Don’t donate items in glass jars as they can break.
3. Items that are usually always welcome are: canned proteins (meat, fish, chicken), hearty canned stews, nut butters in plastic jars, canned vegetables and fruits, enriched white rice or brown rice, beans, coffee, tea bags, 100% juice.

It was very inspirational to see what this modest church with a small congregation comprised of many senior citizens was doing to help their community and their friends and neighbors. It was a good reminder that even the smallest church can help those in need.

REACH (Reynolds Establishing Active Community Hospitality)

We have many in the community who reach out to help Food for Fairview. We, in turn, reach out to help others. But recently at Food for Fairview, the word “reach” has taken on a whole new meaning.

Meet REACH (Reynolds Establishing Active Community Hospitality), a club at AC Reynolds High School whose sole purpose is to reach out to lend a helping hand in the community through participating in a wide range of service projects. Most recently, since we are now open after school hours, REACH has taken on Food for Fairview as its latest service project. A rotating group of students comes to Food for Fairview each Monday to assist with anything needed.

According to club President Johan Aguilera, the group has many hours of volunteer service behind it, and many more to come. Recently, the group participated in the Buddy Walk in Fletcher and volunteered at MANNA Food Bank. Coming up, this dedicated group of young people will be assisting with the Christmas Celebration at Biltmore Village as well as Christmas caroling at a local hospice. A spring project with RiverLink is also in the works.

I recently had an opportunity to attend a club meeting and speak to the group about Food for Fairview and our mission. What an inspiration it was to meet this compassionate group of young people and see firsthand their passion for volunteering!

Many thanks to Molly Sager, faculty advisor, for facilitating this great group. We also thank Kim Rogers, Communications and Events Director for the club, for initiating contact with Food for Fairview to get the ball rolling on our collaboration. Of this great group we have to say – we’re glad you “reached” out to us!


AC Reynolds High School REACH

Courtesy of The Fairview Town Crier

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. – Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel, popularly known as Dr. Seuss, well-knows author of children’s books, wrote “kids can see a moral coming a mile off”, and avoided starting his books by stating an obvious moral at the beginning. Nonetheless, he wove subtle messages about issues he found important in his works, thus influencing generations of children.

The kids of our community have obviously received the message of the Dr. Seuss quote, above, loud and clear. Once again, the kids of Fairview Elementary School have outdone themselves during the annual Food for Fairview/Fairview Elementary School food drive. This year, the student body collected cans and cash equaling 1,700 cans of food or over a half ton of food! What a great service to the community! As always, the adults have been humbled by the caring exhibited by the kids who are doing their part to make the world a little better.

Fairview Elementary 2nd Grade
Each year the grade levels compete against each other to see which one can collect the largest number of cans. This year the winner was: 2nd grade! Congratulations to them and all who participated. You are all winners in our eyes!

As a reward for their hard work, the 2nd graders were treated to a wonderful magic show by well-known local magician, Professor WhizzPop. This great event was enjoyed by all.

Again, many thanks to the kids, parents, faculty and staff of Fairview Elementary for their great service to the less fortunate of our community.

Courtesy of The Fairview Town Crier


Professor WhizzPopEach year, Food for Fairview provides all the ingredients needed for a complete Thanksgiving dinner for each of our clients. We are in dire need of donations of the following items to complete our Thanksgiving dinner boxes:

1. French’s French fried onions
2. Stuffing mix
3. Brownie mix
Thank you in advance for your support of this project!