Saluda sign request reveals free grocery program for residents in need

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, May 14, 2015

A church in Saluda came to council this week requesting an exception to the sign ordinance and even though the city couldn’t grant it, commissioners learned of a program designed to feed Saluda residents in need.

Bill Sutton, with the Church of the Transfiguration in Saluda, said the church started the program in September 2014 to give out 25 bags of free groceries every third Friday of the month.

Sutton asked that the church place a temporary sign at the corner of Greenville and Main Street once a month for 24 hours at a time.

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Saluda’s current ordinance does not allow temporary off-premise signs, so planner Jon Cannon said because of the existing ordinance he had to deny the request. He also said he can approve temporary signs on their property.

Sutton said Cannon was more than helpful with his request and he understands if the city is unable to allow the sign, but he was thinking since the program involves public health and it is a civic service commissioners may be able to make an exception.

“There is in fact a need in the community,” Sutton told commissioners. “A lot of people have jobs whose wages are dependent on the weather. We are targeting families who have children and seniors but it is open to everybody.”

The program was at first decided to be a six-month exploratory program, Sutton said, and has now received a grant with the church matching funding to continue the program for three years.

Sutton said since the grocery program began, the church has given away more than 150 bags of groceries to the community.

The church is working with Ingles, who is donating the grocery bags and Wildflower Bakery in Saluda is donating 25 loaves of bread per week to place in the bags.

The church received the grant from The Human, Hurt and Hope Grant through the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina.

Church volunteers have designated a person to purchase the groceries who has done research to ensure each grocery bag contains the most nutritional value for its contents.

The small group of volunteers who are running the ministry has also been working with the Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, Polk County’s food bank, which Augusta Anderson, with the church said is very supportive and aware of the program.

Anderson said the program is currently giving away 25 bags of groceries per month but if more people are in need they can add another day of the month.

“If we have a problem of too many people, we’ll figure out a way to meet that need,” Anderson said.

Anderson also told commissioners it doesn’t have to be the person in need to pick up the groceries. Anyone who knows someone in need in Saluda can pick up the groceries and deliver, Anderson said.

“If somebody knows a neighbor in need they can come and get it for them,” said Anderson. “If we get more people we can start adding another day of the month. If we have a problem of too many people, we’ll figure out a way to meet that need.”

The City of Saluda is currently drafting amendments to its sign ordinance, with the possibility of temporary signs to be allowed in some districts, such as C2 and C3 districts, which would be allowed if approved in areas including Ozone and Seminary Streets. The downtown district is C1 and temporary signs are not currently being considered in the amendments.

Commissioners also offered to publish the program in city newsletters and on the city’s website. Commissioner Leon Morgan offered get brochures out to businesses as well.

Saluda residents needing to receive a free bag of groceries are encouraged to go to the Church of the Transfiguration parking lot at the corner of Charles and Seminary Streets on the third Friday of the month from 3-5 p.m. For more information call the church at 828-749-9740.



• North Carolina ranks 34th nationally in overall child well being

• 25 percent of North Carolina children live in poor families measured by income below the national poverty line, or 586,000 children. The national average is 22 percent.

• 65 percent of Polk County children received free or subsidized lunch in 2011-2012.

• 54.9 percent of Henderson County children received free or subsidized lunch in 2011-2012.

• 56 percent of North Carolina children received free or subsidized lunch in 2011-2012. This number is on the rise as it was 48 percent in 2007.


Statistics obtained from Kids County Data Center, the Anne Casey Foundation; NC Policy Watch; a Progressive Pulse blog; and the National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University, Department of Health Policy and Management.