Food Connection


Guest post by Debby Vance
Regional Program Manager & Volunteer Coordinator
Food Connection

With so many high-quality nonprofit organizations in our community, it's hard to keep up with all the amazing work being done. We're proud to lift up the work of one such organization, Food Connection. Fighting food insecurity by reducing waste, Food Connection has been serving our neighbors for nearly a decade. Be sure to check out the Food Connection website for more information. 

Recently, Debbie Vance, Regional Program Manager & Volunteer Coordinator, was kind enough to share more about Food Connection and its work.

Close your eyes and imagine the smell of smoked brisket, roasted potatoes, and stewed cinnamon apples. Now open your eyes and imagine all of that delicious food ending up in the trash. Outrageous, right? But it happens more often than you realize. In fact, 40% of all food produced in the U.S. ends up in the landfill.

Food Connection is an Asheville-based nonprofit that reduces food waste and eases hunger by connecting those with too much food, to those without enough food. To date, they have kept a whopping 153 TONS of fresh food OUT of the Buncombe County landfill. Surplus food like crab cakes from the Omni Grove Park Inn, chicken, and dumplings from Givens Highland Farms, veggie couscous from UNCA  have been rescued by Food Connection and redistributed to provide 400,000+ prepared meals for our neighbors in need.

By rescuing surplus prepared food from catering companies, conference centers, universities, and institutions they’re able to redistribute this fresh food to agency partners who serve food insecure communities. Some of the food is distributed directly into low wealth neighborhoods with high need and little access to prepared food.


When the pandemic shuttered businesses in March of 2020, Food Connection pivoted its model of service to purchasing chef-prepared meals to distribute to communities in need. As businesses began to re-open in 2021, Food Connection began to operate a hybrid model of service, distributing both rescued surplus food and purchased chef meals.

In 2021, Food Connection served a total of 84,899 freshly prepared heat and serve meals through nonprofit partners and curbside distributions. On a weekly basis, Food Connection distributes bulk volumes of rescued food to 16 agencies that feed a combined 1,312 individuals. Food recipient partners in Buncombe County include ABCCM’s Veterans Restoration Quarters and Transformation Village, WNC Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army, Church of the Advocate, Trinity Place Youth Shelter, Loving Food Resources, Black Mountain Home for Children, Hope for Tomorrow, and Black Mountain Welcome Table.

On a weekly basis, Food Connection distributes individually packaged meals into low wealth communities, serving over 200 individuals. These community distributions include two mobile home communities in Swannanoa and our weekly Swannanoa Drive-Thru free meal distribution. All are welcome!

This summer, Food Connection will be launching their Mobile Meals “Complimentary Food Truck Experience.”  This food truck will rescue food from catered events, repackage the food into individual heat-and-serve meals, and go directly into communities to share, free of charge. There will be a selection of items and a menu to give folks choices,  just like a real food truck experience, but for no cost.

Help Fight Food Insecurity


In order to rescue and pack the volume of food needed to launch Mobile Meals, Food Connection needs additional volunteers to help in all aspects of food recovery, repacking, and distributing.

  • Do you hate the thought of fresh food ending up in the trash? Are you looking to roll up your sleeves and get involved? A wonderful opportunity to help the folks at Food Connection is repacking leftover food at Ridgecrest Conference Center on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. Volunteers will repackage rescued food from Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain.  If you have experience using a spoon or spatula then you can be a part of this team!  The repacked fresh food goes to both recipient partners who feed people through their organizations and also to their meal-packing program to distribute to working low wealth families and seniors.
  • Do you love the aesthetics of a beautifully plated meal? A second way you can help is to package individual meals for our recipients with a variety of prepared food. Volunteers will pack up individual meals from rescued food by transferring the food from the aluminum kitchen pans used to rescue the food, into individual heat and serve meals. This meal packing currently takes place at St James Episcopal Church in Black Mountain on Wednesdays at noon and on Fridays at 2 pm.
  • Do you have your own transportation and love the thought of being a Food Rescue Hero and have a smartphone? This is the perfect opportunity for you to volunteer with Food Connection by being one of the very first in Asheville to download their free Chow Match app from the Google Play or Apple App store.  

    On your computer, you simply create an account and take a short quiz to become a Food Rescue Driver.  From there you can sign up to pick up food from local restaurants/catering facilities/event venues for delivery to non-profit organizations in Buncombe County.  This app keeps track of your volunteer hours, logs your miles and even gives you an estimate of how many pounds of food you have saved from the Buncombe County Landfill.  Yay You!

It Takes All Of Us

Food Connection continues to believe that no fresh food should end up in the trash while people go hungry. Connecting the dots between those with too much food and those without enough food takes manpower/womanpower/people power. It takes awesome chefs, kitchen staff, nonprofit employees AND amazing volunteers.

For more information, contact Debby Vance or visit