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Reverend aims to put a face on hunger at West Asheville cafe

Reverend Shannon Spencer (RIGHT), the founder of the Asheville Poverty Initiative, says the hot meals served at 12 Baskets Cafe do more than just feed a need -- they help start a conversation. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

News 13's Person of the Week is taking a personal approach in the fight against hunger.

The Rev. Shannon Spencer said the hot meals served at 12 Baskets Cafe do more than just feed a need -- they help start a conversation.

"Because it's not just, 'Oh, that's that neighborhood.' It's, 'Oh, that's Eddie. Eddie's living out there. What's that mean for Eddie?'" Spencer explained. "It makes a difference, and it invites us to get involved."

12 Baskets is a nonprofit food connection program and part of the Asheville Poverty Initiative, which Spencer founded. The unique West Asheville cafe provides top-notch food that local restaurants would have otherwise thrown away.

"One hundred percent of what we serve is rescued, including the coffee," Spencer said.

The work at 12 Baskets is not a solo effort, however. Each meal requires the coordination of some 50 volunteers.

"I think what 12 Baskets really illustrates is that when everybody shares what they have, there's plenty to go around," Spencer said.

But the goal is more than just serving -- Spencer said connecting with people puts a face on hunger that changes everything. By taking time to put a name on poverty, she believes familiarity breeds solutions.

"We believe it's what's going to eradicate poverty. It's what's going to build our community. It's what's going make everybody safer," she said.

12 Baskets Cafe, at 610 Haywood Road, serves free lunch every weekday.

The Asheville Poverty Initiative also serves dinner at Pisgah View Apartments on Tuesday nights.

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