‘Friends sharing with friends’: Saluda Pop-Up Pantry gives back
Published 1:54 pm Monday, January 23, 2023
SALUDA–In the last few years, the Saluda Pop-Up Pantry, a 501(3)c charity, has grown in size and service. This organization helps the community by providing free groceries for local families in need, along with supportive friends when they need it most. Started by the Church of the Transfiguration, Thayer Fleming took over the operation in 2019.
The Pantry soon partnered with Manna Food Bank, an organization that receives food donated from various grocery stores, and it originally set up shop on Apple Mill Rd. Before long, it moved to its current location at 54 Carolina St. in Saluda, just behind Saluda Presbyterian Church, into a space the pantry nicknamed “Shoppers Corner.”
From there, nearly eighty volunteers work to make sure that shoppers who visit the pantry have access to high-quality groceries, including healthy and fresh food locally sourced from farms in our area.
“It’s a lot about friends and friendships,” Operations Manager Diane Land said earlier this week. “Our volunteers enjoy their work, and this is a happy place for everyone, full of lots of hugs.”
In 2021, Saluda Pop-Up Pantry distributed over 125,000 pounds of food to our community. The pantry is able to buy produce straight from the local farms in the area, helping it support up to ninety households in the community totaling nearly three-hundred people.
The Saluda Garden Club even provides fresh-cut flowers during the spring and summer months, and Thanksgiving centerpieces and wreaths at Christmas to add to the shopper’s holiday cheer. During the pandemic, what they were able to do was limited but the dozens of volunteers still helped, filling boxes that shoppers would later pick up.
“We’d be nothing without our volunteers like Diane,” Fleming shared. “I’d also like to thank all of our partners, the Saluda Presbyterian Church, Jane Ella Matthews, our volunteer coordinator, and Susan Casey for working with the local farms to help us get the best produce.”
Saluda Pop-Up Pantry accepts donations of shelf-stable products, as well as personal hygiene products and blankets and coats in the wintertime. It always focuses on having healthy, nutritious foods, such as low-sodium, low-sugar products.
Those interested in volunteering at the pantry can find more information at www.saludapantry.com. The organization is always looking for folks with unique talents and skills in marketing, grant writing, or strategic development. They even have a nurse, Patty Martin, who volunteers medical advice and helps to educate the shoppers.
“The Pantry’s motto is ‘friends sharing with friends,’ and we’ve been lucky everything has fallen into place,” Fleming said.
The Saluda Pop-up Pantry is open Tuesdays from 1 to 6 p.m.