YMCA Expands Partner Network to Feed Neighbors in Need

wicked weed

Asheville, N.C., April 24, 2020 – Thousands of local residents now have more food security thanks to a partnership between Wicked Weed Brewing, Cultura restaurant, local food vendors, the YMCA of Western North Carolina, Food Connection, and other area nonprofits.

This week the Y and Food Connection will deliver 5,000 healthy meals from Cultura to senior citizens, healthcare professionals, children and families, and homeless individuals in the Asheville area. The program has increased from 900 meals just a week ago, and will continue after the state reopens for business because the need will be ongoing.

“In times like this when our communities are under so much stress, the necessity for unique partnerships grows exponentially,” said Cory Jackson, executive director of community health at the YMCA of Western North Carolina. “We are thrilled to work alongside Wicked Weed Brewing, Food Connection, and our partners to help serve those in our community affected by COVID-19.”

Jane Cumby, a resident of Vanderbilt Place Apartments, is among those grateful for the nutritious meal service.

“Thank you for the great meal you provided us last Wednesday,” said Cumby. “Our meal was delivered straight to our apartment and it was such a treat, the entree was a delicious pasta dish along with homemade bread and a salad. I understand we will receive additional meals and I really look forward to them. Thanks for remembering us seniors.”

A community effort

The delivery program is being made possible by Wicked Weed’s Beers That Build initiative, which is committed to providing financial support and food security to North Carolinians affected by the upheaval caused by coronavirus.

In addition to its own financial commitment of $50,000 to the Y and other nonprofits, the brewery also helped facilitate an anonymous donation of $225,000 to help the Y and Food Connection deliver thousands of meals each week to people in need.

“COVID-19 presents unprecedented challenges and the food and financial security of communities across our home state are paramount at this moment,” said Ryan Guthy, founder and president of Wicked Weed Brewing. “Whether it is a homecooked meal, contributing resources or providing local fire stations, EMS and healthcare workers with access to our world-class beers during their days off, we are hoping to deliver a sense of normalcy during an uncertain time.”

Wicked Weed’s restaurant, Cultura, has partnered with vendors such as Hickory Nut Gap Meats, Apple Brandy Beef with Chop Shop Butchery, and US Foods to supply the food.

“The decision to turn my kitchen into a commissary was an easy one. We have the means to help and all I know is how to cook,” said Chef Eric Morris. “Working with Food Connection and the YMCA has allowed me and my staff to keep doing what we do. We are here to feed people and for that I am grateful.”

Food Connection has helped identify those populations most in need. “We are incredibly grateful to the team at Wicked Weed Brewing's Cultura for coming to the rescue during these uncertain times when many within the Asheville community are finding themselves to be food insecure for the first time in their lives,” said Flori Pate, the group’s founder and executive director.

Ongoing food security

The Y continues to distribute free, fresh produce in prepackaged bags at more than 30 mobile markets in five counties each month.

Demand has been extremely high for this service, and the Y welcomes donations of produce, low-sodium canned vegetables, brown rice, black beans, lentils, and whole wheat bread, pasta, and crackers.

The Y is also serving takeout meals at 10 sites across Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, and McDowell counties. These meals are prepared by Y staff and volunteers at The Venue, which has donated the use of its certified kitchen and equipment to ensure a safe, sanitary experience.

As always, there’s no charge for these services, and no questions are asked.

The Y’s food distribution schedule is online at ymcawnc.org/nutrition. People who are quarantined and in need of food resources can call 828 775 7081 for assistance.

Stay with us

Since mid-March, the Y has served more than 13,000 prepared meals and distributed more than 73,000 pounds of produce.

“Each meal we serve means a neighbor won’t go to bed hungry,” Jackson said. “But we need public support to continue to meet the need.”

The Y welcomes financial donations at ymcawnc.org/give. Members can help by keeping their membership active or converting it to a charitable contribution until the Y can safely resume normal operations.

“We need you to stay with us to make sure no one is left behind in this crisis. With your help, we will continue to deliver hope for all,” Jackson said.