The Community Table is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide nutritious meals, in a welcoming environment, to our neighbors in need. Since 1999, our vision has been that no one in Jackson County, NC goes to bed hungry. We are more than a soup kitchen, more than a food pantry. Through our partnership with MANNA Food Bank, and with the ongoing support of our community, we are a powerful resource for those in need.
WHAT WE DO
Under normal circumstances, The Community Table’s dinner service provides freshly prepared nutritious meals four days a week, from 4pm to 6pm. Dinner service is much like a family-style restaurant; our guests sit where they like, have menu options, and are waited on by our volunteers. From 11am-6pm, our food pantry program provides boxes of groceries. We are open 28 hours each week, allowing our clients' convenient access. Our pantry provides nonperishable foods, frozen and refrigerated foods, fresh produce, proteins, and bread. In all our services, we strive to make each person’s experience positive and dignified.
With the arrival of the COVID-19 health crisis in our country and our community, we have moved all operations outdoors into our parking area, under tents. The pantry is no longer ‘self shop’. All operations are now pre-boxed and drive up only. No clients exit their vehicles and we have a zero-contact policy in place. We are also serving all meals-to-go only.
To facilitate that in a sanitary manner, we made an emergency purchase of a meal packing machine and 12,800 trays. These prepacked meals are more sanitary, can be frozen for up to 3 months, and can safely be reheated in a microwave or oven.
All staff and volunteers have PPE in the form of cloth face masks, face shields, and gloves. We have purchased lots of Max-Quat Sanitizer, and are working on funding for electrostatic sprayers. We are taking on no new volunteers and have let go of most of our older regulars for their safety. We are running on a skeleton crew of 4 and doing our best to keep everyone safe.
THE FACTS ON THE GROUND
Manna Food Bank’s Hunger in America WNC 2014 Report showed that 9 out of 10 households reported buying the cheapest food rather than the healthiest, as a matter of necessity. When asked what types of foods are most needed via food pantries 64% of clients indicated fruits and vegetables and 55% said meats and proteins. 64% of survey respondents also reported having to choose between food or health care in the past 12 months, while 31% of client households have at least one member with diabetes and 55% have at least one member with high blood pressure.
Furthermore, the Jackson County 2018 Community Health Assessment counted 77% of residents as obese or overweight. The correlation between low-income status and obesity has been well demonstrated, as cheaply available food is often the least healthy and most fattening. Several hundred of our most vulnerable Jackson County residents rely on The Community Table for supplemental food to maintain a healthy adequate diet. In 2019, we served over 25,595 meals to our neighbors in need.