The BLOCK Off Biltmore has closed, but its free CommUNITY Meals initiative continues

UNITED THEY STAND: Pictured from left, Cam MacQueen, Jeremy Salig and Katie McGrath distribute free meals and face masks and register voters at The BLOCK Off Biltmore 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays. Photo courtesy The BLOCK Off Biltmore

Cam MacQueen’s longtime commitment to social justice activism led her to open The BLOCK Off Biltmore in November 2015, pledging to provide Asheville with “a unique, multicultural, progressive, vegan gathering spot for activists, artists, educators, community organizers and others to come together to socialize, to dream and to dare to create positive social change in Western North Carolina and beyond.” Over the years, The BLOCK hosted multitudes of meetings, events, meals, celebrations and calls to action and served as a launch pad for marches and movements right up until July 12, when MacQueen announced she had come to the wrenching decision to close the space.

The month before, she partnered with neighbor Benne on Eagle and the acclaimed restaurant’s executive chef, Ashleigh Shanti, to co-host a free, outdoor celebration of Juneteenth in Asheville’s historically Black neighborhood, The Block. The event, which featured live music, an open mic and vegan meals, raised over $2,000 for the newly formed Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice and Color of Change.  “I was on cloud nine after that,” MacQueen says.

In early June, MacQueen also combined her passions for social justice and food justice to create CommUNITY Meals, an initiative that offered free, twice-weekly, nutrient-dense dinners made with produce donated by the North Asheville Tailgate Market and West Village Market, shiitake mushrooms from 12 Bones Smokehouse and vegan products from Smiling Hara Tempeh, Diosas Cheeze and Fermenti. Eden-Out Organic Meals and Benne volunteered the use of their kitchens, and local chefs Katie McGrath and Jeremy Salig jumped in to cook. From The BLOCK’s front door, the three have given away over 700 plant-based meals, distributed free face masks and handed out voter registration forms and absentee ballot request forms in English and Spanish.

Although The BLOCK is closed for business, MacQueen intends to keep CommUNITY Meals going, offering service 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays at 39 S. Market St. She advises people to check for updates on The BLOCK ‘s social media platforms.


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About Kay West
Kay West was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, StyleBlueprint Nashville, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. To kick off 2019 she put Tennessee in her rear view mirror, drove into the mountains of WNC, settled in West Asheville and appreciates that writing offers the opportunity to explore and learn her new home. She looks forward to hiking trails, biking greenways, canoeing rivers, sampling local beer and cheering the Asheville Tourists.

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5 thoughts on “The BLOCK Off Biltmore has closed, but its free CommUNITY Meals initiative continues

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    yep, the city govco helped to shut her down too…permits out the wazoo…fines for painting an interior wall wrong color…shit like yat …that is how
    city govco messes with people…and SHE is a loyal democrackkk!

    I went to a few dance events there…it was a comfortable facility, but now everything must be shut down and cancelled so we know how socialism will be…

    • C-Law


      MacQueen has learned an important lesson, as should all of us—a lesson George Carlin put perfectly years ago…

      “But there’s a reason. There’s a reason. There’s a reason for this, there’s a reason education sucks, and it’s the same reason that it will never, ever, ever be fixed. It’s never gonna get any better. Don’t look for it. Be happy with what you got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the real owners, the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the senate, the congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want: They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. Thats against their interests. Thats right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table to figure out how badly they’re getting ****ed by a system that threw them overboard 30 ****ing years ago. They don’t want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it, and now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street, and you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you, sooner or later, ’cause they own this ****ing place. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club. And by the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head in their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table is tilted folks. The game is rigged, and nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. Good honest hard-working people — white collar, blue collar, it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on — good honest hard-working people continue — these are people of modest means — continue to elect these rich ****suckers who don’t give a **** about them. They don’t give a **** about you. They don’t give a **** about you. They don’t care about you at all — at all — at all. And nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on; the fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue **** that’s being jammed up their ******** everyday. Because the owners of this country know the truth: it’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

  2. indy499

    You should try to make friends with Mr paragraph. Might make your posting readable.

  3. ashevillemakespeoplepoop

    They probably needed space for a new boutique shop that caters to the weird looking people who walk around in L.L. bean clothing with their weird nuclear families.

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