The Sylva Herald, By Kelly Morgan
Jackson County’s long-standing food bank and soup kitchen, the Community Table, has faced unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19. In an email brief last week, the organization described the adjustments it has made to cope with the virus.
All operations have moved outdoors into their parking area, under tents. For the time being, the pantry is no longer “self-shop.” All food is pre-boxed and drive-up only. Clients should remain in their vehicles, and a worker will bring the food to the client’s car.
Meals are also to-go only. To facilitate that process in a sanitary manner, the Community Table 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 three months and can be safely reheated in a microwave or oven.
“I could write you a treatise on how COVID-19 has affected us,” Director Paige Christie said Friday. “We’ve seen a major increase in the clients we’re serving. In March, we closed our dining room. Everything’s been outside in the rain and heat. Everything’s carryout. We have had to let our volunteer base go for health reasons, for their safety and ours. We’re running on a skeleton crew.”
However, Christie also said community support during this time has been incredible.
“From individual donations, to restaurants that had to shut down and donated their extra food to us, to monetary donations, to local grant funders reaching out to us, to local businesses reaching out to us even though they’re having trouble themselves – it has just been amazing,” Christie said.
To make contributions, people can bring food or monetary donations to the Community Table in person, they can mail monetary donations to P.O. Box 62, Dillsboro, NC 28725, or they can donate online at communitytable.org.
The Community Table is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
The next Blue Plate Special lunch fundraiser will be Aug. 26. Further details, such as who will cater, are pending.