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Person of the Week connects those with too much food to those with too little food

News 13's Person of the Week Flori Pate connects people with too much food and those who don't have enough. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

In a food city like Asheville, it seems unthinkable that so many go hungry. News 13's Person of the Week Flori Pate connects people with too much food and those who don't have enough.

Her non-profit is now a staple in the city.

Four years ago, Pate and her husband created the Dig Local app to keep people informed about local happenings. But it's her side project that gives her an even greater appreciation for the heart of our community.

"There's so many people that want to help, and sometimes they just don't know how to," Pate said.

A few years ago, she figured out a way to work with the local food industry, including Deerfield Retirement Community, to help fight hunger.

Like, so many restaurants, and especially caterers, they often have an abundance of food.

"Sometimes we have leftovers and I don't want to throw them away. I want someone to eat them," Cary Shackleford, the executive chef for Deerfield Retirement Community, said.

Pate created food connection.

So far, the nonprofit's rescued 70,000 restaurant-quality meals that would have been thrown away, giving them to local shelters and other groups who feed people in need.

"This is a restaurant destination, people come here to eat the food. For any of that food to end up in a landfill is absolutely absurd," Pate observed.

A conversation with a Pack's Tavern worker a few years ago inspired action. Marketing and special events director Mary Evans vented to Pate.

"With Asheville being a wedding and banquet destination, there was probably a lot of food going in the trash, and how I wished that there was a way to connect it to the people that needed it," Evans said of the conversation.

"I feel like I'm the Match.com of people with too much food, to connect them with people with not enough food," Pate added.

Within weeks, she coordinated with Asheville Taxi to start delivering Pack's Tavern leftovers at nearby shelters.

"In a world of talkers, Flori is a doer," Evans said.

Later, donors like Celine and Company, Dining Innovations, UNC-Asheville, and Deerfield joined the movement.

"With Food Connection, we're not asking them to shop for food and prepare food, we're just asking them not to throw away their already prepared food," Pate said.

"I'm always glad to help anybody who's hungry," Chef Cary Shackleford added.

Food Connection is hosting a benefit called Chefs in Action, featuring small plates from the cooks who donate their food to the cause. It's the evening of Thursday, March 1, 2018, at Celine and Company in Asheville.

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