Thinking inside the box
Ready-to-heat meals at heart of hunger relief strategy in Asheville
A food distribution event was underway in Asheville’s Deaverview neighborhood, home to some of the city’s poorest residents, and two men walked out of the Community Center with plastic bags of puffy white hot dog buns tucked under their arms. Vinnie Grossi glanced their way as he piloted a cargo van through the mountainous neighborhood’s coiled streets.
“I remember as a child distributing so many surplus cakes and pastries,” said Grossi, who grew up riding shotgun in his father’s church ministry van, a vehicle not too different from the one he drives now. As a college student, he swung to the opposite extreme, cultivating organic plants in hopes of repairing the nation’s broken food system with wholesome vegetables instead of hand-me-down Hostess bread.
Yet he soon realized the garlic scapes and pea shoots he tended were going into bespoke salads and All-Clad sauté pans, rather than regular people’s pantries. In solving for climate change and aesthetic vacuousness, he’d neglected to work out the variables contributing to food insecurity.
Now, though, Grossi is working for a charitable organization that’s endeavoring to balance that complicated equation in a relatively novel way.
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