Feeding Avery Families 2023 In Review

During 2023, Feeding Avery Families (FAF) provided $725,000 worth of free food to the hungry in Avery County, NC. Miraculously, FAF food costs averaged only 19 cents per individual meal, thanks to securing top quality groceries at no or very low expense. Dedicated, hard-working volunteers kept operation costs low.

2023 Highlights

  1. Moved into a new $1.3 million FAF Operations Center in April. The 10,000-square-foot building allows for additional programs, including a return to client choice so neighbors select the food they prefer. Thanks to many generous donations and grants, the building is completely paid for.
  2. Began a comprehensive Hispanic Outreach, including hiring Community Outreach Coordinator Vanessa Phillips. Created Spanish flyers and added translation tool on website. Built partnerships with and received referrals from Avery County Schools and High Country Community Health. An average of 100 families were added to the monthly distribution – with 150 families when seasonal workers arrive at farms.
  3. Gave away 453,886 pounds of food (retail value of $725,000) – enough to create 378,238 individual meals!
  4. Secured 62% of the food for distribution at no cost through special opportunities with MANNA FoodBank, regional partners, and federal government programs.
  5. Served an average of 494 families (1,135 individuals) each month on distribution days – an 8% increase from 2022. Each family received 50+ pounds of food – including boxes of groceries, frozen meats, produce, bread, and more.
  6. Provided shoppers with food samples and recipes created by volunteers in the kitchen on distribution days.
  7. Distributed 73,628 pounds of fresh produce to promote healthier eating habits. Grants covered costs for summer produce from local farms via Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, TRACTOR Food and Farms Cooperative in Spruce Pine, and WAMY Community Garden near FAF. MANNA FoodBank provided 78% of this total with a big variety of seasonal produce year-round.
  8. Received 73,714 pounds of food from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), administered by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. A special TEFAP Reach and Resiliency Grant paid for a new commercial refrigerator, tables and carts to aid with distribution.
  9. Picked up donated food from Food Lion in Banner Elk five days a week, receiving 36,341 pounds of meats, deli and bakery items, and other groceries. A large group of regional Food Lion managers volunteered to stock shelves at the new center before the opening.
  10. Received 44,604 pounds of food from customers of Lowes Food in Banner Elk, purchased at check-outs through “Friends Feeding Friends” program.
  11. Increased mobile distribution with delivery for 20 families in the “Old Beech Mountain Community”, workers at the county Recycling Centers, students at schools, and more.
  12. Provided 80 children in Avery County schools with a pack of groceries weekly for weekend meals.
  13. Stocked pantries inside each of the seven Avery County schools with snacks for teachers to give to hungry students during the school day. Also stocked a food pantry in the Lees-McRae College Student Center.
  14. Benefited from 10,000+ volunteer hours from 200 volunteers, providing most of the operation labor.
  15. Partnered with Project Dignity in Asheville to offer free feminine hygiene products.
  16. Distributed personal hygiene care items (toothpaste, soap, razors, lotion etc.) thanks to donations from local organizations and individuals.
  17. Added a “families with babies” section with diapers, formula and other infant essentials.
  18. Offered free dog and cat food to families at many weekly distributions.
  19. Received $197,104 from individual donations, $91,685 from area organizations and churches, and $162,500 in foundation grants. THANK YOU!
  20. Accepted the “Non-Profit of the Year” award by the Avery County Chamber of Commerce.