The Community Table of Jackson County is a valuable resource for people who may need food assistance as well as people who may just want a plate of food that is not from the dining halls. The Table is located at 23 Central St., Sylva.
Students may be put into tight financial situations once the semester ends and campus services such as dining close. While we have resources like HomeBase, which is currently at capacity, to assist with pantry items, housing, and clothing, there is another resource to help with food, The Community Table.
Paige Christie, director of The Community Table, told The Carolinian the goal is to feed people, no matter what the circumstance is. The Community Table has a pantry program and a meal program. The hot meals are available 3 – 4:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. The meals depend on what The Community Table has in stock, but Christie said the organization works hard to ensure it does not run out of food. The Table cannot guarantee what items will be in stock, but Christie said, “We’re never not going to have stuff.”
The pantry services, which provide a supplemental box of groceries, are available to users from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the same days as the meals, but patrons may only use the pantry once every two weeks. The Community Table asks for names, addresses if possible, number of people in the household, and whether users are on food stamps. Food stamps are neither required nor a disqualifier for Community Table services, but they have to ask since the number of food stamp recipients determines how much food the USDA provides.
These services are open to anybody, whether they be community members or students, regardless of financial situation or need. Service users are not required to show proof of need. One thing Christie said is that sometimes people do not use The Community Table out of fear they may take away from people who are in more dire need. That simply is not the case. “We don’t need a reason for people to come to us. There’s no proof of need,” Christie said. Even if students are tired of the dining hall options, The Community Table is available to turn to. It can be hard to admit people need help. Whether people need help every day or just once a year, The Table is here to help.
Christie does not want people to just be okay. She would rather them be stable. People have other expenses in life, Christie wants to make sure people are covered with food. “Let us help with food. Spend that money on gas, spend that money on rent, books, […] whatever. If we can help, let us do it,” she said.
The majority of The Community Table’s food is locally sourced, coming from farms like Full Spectrum Farms, Community Garden, and Darnell Farms. The Community Table can always use monetary donations and food drives, but the biggest thing is to just let others know about the services it provides so it can work to address any food insecurity issues.