Anonymous Gift Will Help Feed Tens of Thousands of People in WNC

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After seeing an inspiring story about a relief effort between Wicked Weed Brewing’s Cultura and the local community, an anonymous donor stepped up in a huge way by sending local nonprofit Food Connection a $200,000 check.

The funds will help purchase more food which Cultura’s staff is now turning into meals for local organizations and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The donor was perusing social media and discovered that Cultura was already providing some 900 meals per week for Food Connection and the YMCA of WNC to distribute at the very beginning of this pandemic. The partnership among the three institutions inspired the donor to contribute funds not only to Food Connection but also to the YMCA of WNC for them to work collectively to cover food and distribution costs during this difficult time.

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That money is stretching even farther because US Foods and local businesses such as Chop Shop Butchery’s Apple Brandy Beef and Hickory Nut Gap Farms have donated product towards the meals.

Last week over 3,000 meals were distributed thanks to the partnership among Food Connection, Cultura, and YMCA of WNC. Beginning this week, Cultura chefs will create 5,000 meals each week on an ongoing basis.

“We are beyond thrilled to have been entrusted with this gift which could not have arrived at a more critical time. Our neighbors desperately need food right now,” said Flori Pate, Co-founder and Executive Director, Food Connection. “We were already sharing meals with thousands of people in the Asheville, Swannanoa and Black Mountain areas, some of whom never needed a free meal before this Pandemic. Because of this generous donation we can move these delicious meals more quickly and increase service to rural areas that are seeing their needs quadruple.”

Meals have gone to feed multiple groups including homebound seniors, unhoused people, and those who have lost their jobs. Cultura “to go” meals were distributed the last three weeks at Food Connection’s Service Industry HEROES Meal for all those in the industry who have lost jobs during the pandemic. Those free meals will continue at the Asheville Masonic Temple parking lot every Saturday from noon to 2pm.

This generous donor gift is allowing Cultura employees to keep working and serve desperately needed meals to the community. Many other chefs in the area also want to help but simply can’t afford to purchase the raw ingredients. For this reason, Food Connection has pivoted from rescuing unserved meals (because so many events and businesses have closed) to fundraising to purchase raw ingredients for their “Chef Meal Donations for disaster relief” program.  Pack’s Tavern and Celine and Company have already made 400 meals through this program thanks to community support.

“I’ve had many of our local chefs call and say they want to help, so we decided to ask for donations to provide raw ingredients so they can do just that, and also get back to doing what they love,” said Pate.

Please visit food-connection.org for additional information and to find ways to support this effort.