New Asheville cafe offers free meals using donations from local restaurants

12 Baskets Cafe in Asheville on Oct. 24, 2016. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Kim Passon wasn't embarrassed to share her story as she sat in the new 12 Baskets Cafe eating a meal for which she said she's grateful.

"It's my first time here today," Passon said, who is homeless. "It means a lot for people that don't have the food."

Passon and about 30 other people enjoyed the meals thanks to a new partnership between those running the cafe and local Asheville restaurants donating their leftovers that otherwise would likely go to waste.

Andy Thomas manages the restaurant that was conceived by his boss Rev. Shannon Spencer. Rev. Spencer is the executive director of the Asheville Poverty Initiative, the parent organization of 12 Baskets. Thomas said he is thrilled when he hears people say the cafe is unique.

"What my boss and I are passionate about is that at 12 Baskets, we have food," said Thomas. "But it's not who we are. We really try to create a community here more than anything else."

It's clear that is happening with the smiles on people's faces, many of them strangers, sharing a meal together as Thomas walks from table to table taking orders. A chalkboard with the day's specials changes every day depending on food donated by various restaurants, including India Garden, Annie's Bakery, Mission Hospital, Earth Fare and more. Thomas said more restaurants are signing up to donate.

For more information:

12 Baskets Cafe 610 Haywood Road in the basement of Firestorm Cafe. You can contact director Rev. Shannon Spencer at 828-231-4169.

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