The Power of Food

Dottie Burton, a 20-year volunteer in ABCCM’s Downtown Crisis Ministry could serve there in any number of areas – from greeting clients in the front lobby to sorting clothing donations.

Instead, Dottie chooses to do her service around food. She works in the kitchen, where she preparesand serves food to those in need of a hot lunch.

“I just love to be in the kitchen,” she says, “because the clients who come in for the soup kitchen and food are the ones who, I feel, need my encouragement. Some of them are so down, and to go out and talk to them over a meal and a cup of coffee so they have someone to open up to, made a big difference for them.”

March is a time of year during which food becomes a critical need at ABCCM. Our Crisis Ministry centers distribute food all winter – a time when families are making the heartbreaking choice between paying heating bills and buying groceries. Our food supplies tend to grow thin, and we need the community’s help so we can keep providing these important services.

Volunteer Tim O'Connor looks over a list of foods requested by a client at the Downtown Crisis Ministry. Tim enjoys packing food boxes and bags for the clients, because he was one himself several years ago.

Volunteer Tim O'Connor looks over a list of foods requested by a client at the Downtown Crisis Ministry. Tim enjoys packing food boxes and bags for the clients, because he was one himself several years ago.

Volunteers like Dottie who work in the Crisis Ministry kitchens do so because they understand the importance of providing food, whether it’s that warm meal and cup of coffee in the soup kitchen or a full box of food to someone who is struggling to make ends meet for the month. Tim O’Connor, who has been volunteering at the Crisis Ministry since 2011, knows that feeling – he was once a Crisis Ministry client. He volunteers regularly with his support person Jenny Brooks, who has come to enjoy her service packing food boxes with Tim in the food pantry.

“I like helping people and I like working here, helping out,” Tim says.

“It’s good to know we’re packing up what people need,” Jenny says. “They’re so grateful, and they smile a lot. That’s why Tim likes to take the boxes out to them in a big shopping cart to see them smile.”

Crisis Ministry volunteer Jenny Brooks serves dessert to a client during a recent soup kitchen lunch.

Crisis Ministry volunteer Jenny Brooks serves dessert to a client during a recent soup kitchen lunch.

As a volunteer counselor, David Johnson hears a lot of requests for food. Not only does the fulfillment of those requests touch his clients, he has also been transformed by his experience with 1-on-1 work.

“Food is a necessity. It’s not like the television. When we are able to give them food bags, there’s just an overwhelming sense of gratitude, this sense of impending doom that’s been in the back of their mind and has been alleviated,” says David, a UNCA Asheville senior majoring in psychology. “I find this is an experience where you are really living the Gospel, not just reading and learning about it. That’s what has been transformative for me, just seeing how impactful that is in other people’s lives, putting it into practice rather than just reading about it. It’s been a gift.”

ABCCM is always looking for volunteers to help in its Crisis Ministry center kitchens and food pantries, where there are opportunities to serve lunch at the Downtown Crisis Ministry center, and work to pack food boxes and organize donations. ABCCM also takes donations of food. Regular needs include:

  • Canned meats (Spam, stew, tuna, salmon, etc.)
  • Self-rising flour
  • Sugar
  • Hot and cold cereal
  • Canned fruit
  • Saltine crackers
  • Cooking oil
  • Juices
  • Canned soups
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Jelly
  • Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables

Food drives are a great way to get involved! Thinking about holding a food drive at your church or place of business? Call (828) 259-5300 to speak with someone our Crisis Ministry.

UNC Asheville senior David Johnson, who volunteers as a counselor in the Crisis Ministry, goes through a client's paperwork before a meeting. Johnson sees how grateful clients are when they're able to get assistance with food.

UNC Asheville senior David Johnson, who volunteers as a counselor in the Crisis Ministry, goes through a client's paperwork before a meeting. Johnson sees how grateful clients are when they're able to get assistance with food.