Written by Katie Smith
In 2018, Kathleen Burns left a career in mental health to find a way to serve her home community in Swain County. Having been inspired by The Community Table in Sylva, she met with area residents to brainstorm ways to recreate the concept in her hometown. It was immediately clear that there was a large need for an organization like The Community Table in Swain County. In the fall of 2018, a small group hosted their first community meal – a Thanksgiving style dinner, with a handful of attendees. In February of 2019, The Giving Spoon officially hosted its first dinner under its namesake, with 23 residents in attendance. The numbers grew each week, jumping to 38, then 50, and eventually averaging at 125 people in attendance at the twice-a-week meals. Knowing that more people needed assistance, Burns and the board met to discuss what barriers folks might have that would prevent them from coming in to have a free meal; they quickly concluded that transportation was a glaring obstacle. The Giving Spoon began operating delivery routes, and now offer six different routes to areas in need in Swain County.
Today, The Giving Spoon operates out of the Bryson City Presbyterian Church, offering pick-up meals and continuing to maintain delivery routes in the area, serving an average of 350 meals, two nights a week. The 501(c)(3) has two cooks on staff who receive a mountain of compliments on their dishes which include lasagnas, breakfast for dinner, casseroles, and more!
The Giving Spoon primarily operates on money received from grants, foundations, and donations.
The Blue Plate Special is the organizations primary fundraiser event, but they have been few and far between since COVID hit. The organization hopes that their upcoming fundraiser on Wednesday, October 20th will bring in droves of support for their initiative. For $8, they will be serving loaded baked potatoes, dessert, and a drink (drive-thru style), and it is sponsored by Watershed Resorts. In the last year, The Giving Spoon has been able to provide 31,545 meals because of fundraisers like this.
If you or someone you know who could benefit from the services of The Giving Spoon, please stop by the church to pick up a meal on Monday and Thursday, or call Kathleen at 828-736-0962 to be placed on the delivery route. There are no questions asked or requirements to receive a free meal from The Giving Spoon.
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