Second Loaf wraps up another successful season of feeding area residents in need

Special to Black Mountain News
Second Loaf volunteers collect food for Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry.

Another successful season of Second Loaf has wrapped up at the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry. 

In the late 1980s, Ann Jennings, a summer resident in Montreat, was the force behind Second Loaf. She wanted a way for the tremendous amounts of food being thrown away by groups attending conferences at Montreat to help others. Decades later, the impact of the program continues to grow.  

Second Loaf begins early on Saturday mornings with volunteers setting up at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church for drop off of food as groups leave Montreat Conference Center. 

Through the years, Montreat Conference Center has advised all conference attendees of this program. 

As food is dropped off, dedicated Second Loaf volunteers sort the items before the SVCM van rolls in to collect the food and take back to the Ministry. 

A second group of about 19 SVCM volunteers unloads the van at the Ministry and sorts the food to distribute. In addition to food collected from Second Loaf, SVCM also received pans of frozen meat and vegetables from The Food Connection. 

For many years Margo Smith and her late husband Kent, rallied the volunteers collecting the food. 

“Countless donors have thanked us for providing a place for their leftovers, several have asked for information about how Second Loaf works so they can take the idea to their communities," Margo said.  

Margo thanked the volunteers in a letter at the conclusion of the season. 

“Most important, many families in the community have enjoyed the food that we have been able to provide, and the shelves at SVCM have received much needed supplement from those who have brought unopened, non-perishables," she wrote. 

The success of the mission is directly linked to the dedicated Second Loaf volunteers.  Fifty community volunteers, many of them working week after week, and 32 summer staffers from Montreat served over 320 hours this summer. 

Margo tells a story of a jogger who recently jogged through, asked what they were doing, and returned with a couple of bags of food he bought at Ingles for Second Loaf. 

“It’s an important effort for hundreds of families in a region plagued by food insecurity…" said Montreat Conference Center President Richard Dubose. "Second Loaf is characteristic of the way that Montreaters engage in community efforts beyond the Montreat Gate.” 

The donations provide a boost for clients of the Ministry during the busy summer months, according to Chuck Williams, SVCM Food Pantry Supervisor and Volunteer Coordinator.

“We are so blessed to have so much extra food for our large group of selected families on Saturday mornings, from June until the first week in August,” he said. “Additionally, the Montreat conference groups have been providing a large amount of non-perishable food that we use in the SVCM Food Pantry for the regular client shoppers during the week.”

This year numerous families had a designated time to come and pick up a shopping cart loaded with food items. One of the families gave SVCM a card. 

In it she wrote: “Thank you for all the food and goodies you have packed up and given to my family this summer. I realize each one of you volunteered, instead of sleeping in or relaxing at home, to come out early on these summer Saturdays to sort items and distribute them to my family and other families. I thank you for your dedication to serve.”