Swannanoa Valley Christian ministry highlighted in photography exhibition

For many, especially in the surrounding areas, food shortages continue to be a problem.

Working with four local organizations that support the community, the First Congregational United Church of Christ of Asheville organized a photography exhibit on the issue of food access and availability.

Titled “Feeding Our Neighbours,” the church worked with local organizations, including the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry, to create the exhibit.

Mandy Kjellstrom was instrumental in preparing for the exhibition. She said the purpose of the exhibit is to highlight the efforts of organizations with which the church partners.

Kjellstrom worked with a team of people at the church, the Benevolence Team, to decide which organizations to feature and the focus of the exhibit.

“We have a wonderful friend in our congregation named Farhad Kanuga,” Kjellstrom said. “He worked with the team, visiting organizations when they were there and taking pictures.”

In addition to SVCM, the exhibition features the work of Children First, Loving Food Resources and 12 Baskets. Featured in the FCUCC’s Oak Street Gallery, Kanuga’s photographs capture community organizations that collect, prepare and distribute food throughout the region.

Organizations such as SVCM provide fresh produce from the ministry's pantry to customers in need.

The church compiled the data from Feeding America in a statement. According to its findings, 18 million children and 54 million people overall face food insecurity every day in America. Due to the pandemic, the problem has only gotten worse.

“With COVID, we haven’t had any customers inside,” said Cheryl Wilson, executive director of SVCM. “Every day we make a list of available foods.”

SVCM serves the VA Medical Center via Swannanoa to the east. A crisis ministry, SVCM not only assists clients with food, but also with financial assistance, housing, clothing and more.

A volunteer sorts clothes at the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry.

Due to the pandemic, Wilson said ministry volunteers stepped in to deliver fresh food to customers’ cars outside the building. Unfortunately, this means customers can no longer choose their own food.

“We get a lot of food from MANNA (FoodBank),” Wilson said. “We had plenty of food and it didn’t cost us that much to get it.”

Wilson connected with FCUCC through the Black Mountain community. On March 27, SVCM will give a brief presentation on the work of ministry during Sunday service.

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Contact him at 828-230-3324 or emaille@blackmountainnews.com. Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribe.

Stewart C. Hartline