What’s new in food: New tool to fight hunger in WNC

NEW TOOL: Madison Rousseau, MANNA's agency relations coordinator, displays the nonprofit's new Food Finder tool. Photo by David Gwaltney

MANNA FoodBank has launched a new Food Finder tool. The interactive map was made possible in part by Vivery, a technology company that digitizes food networks so pantries and meal providers can easily coordinate with people experiencing food insecurity.

MANNA FoodBank offers meals to tens of thousands of families in WNC each year through a network of over 300 partners across 16 counties and the Qualla Boundary, though the organization also cites an unprecedented level of need. In 2021, about 1 in 5 adults were affected by food insecurity in WNC, according to WNC Health Network. The Food Finder is one more tool in MANNA’s tool belt, which also includes a Food Helpline.

The Food Finder tool, which centralizes the efforts of the region’s existing network, is already making food distribution more consistent, according to MANNA’s agency relations coordinator, Madison Rousseau. “Partners are finding it easy to use and update in real time,” she says, “rather than waiting on a MANNA staff member to make those changes for them. We have partners using the free text messaging tool to give neighbors a heads-up when they will be closed, which has already been so helpful this winter.”

In its 2022-23 cycle, MANNA was able to provide over 20.1 million pounds of food through its distribution network, according to a press release. The organization calls on its community members to utilize and share the Food Finder tool to increase that number. “Our partner network is the backbone of our efforts to combat hunger in Western North Carolina. Together, we form a united front against food insecurity,” says Claire Neal, CEO at MANNA. “The Food Finder tool is a testament to our commitment to empowering our partners while also streamlining access to food resources for our neighbors who need our help.”

To get involved or get in touch with someone at MANNA who can help you navigate this tool, call 800-820-1109 or text 828-367-9456.

The MANNA Food Finder tool is at avl.mx/dar.

Corner Kitchen embraces winter 

Corner Kitchen has unveiled a new seasonal menu of winter comfort dishes.

The menu includes new entrees such as coq au vin and a seafood simmer accompanied by a polenta cake, as well as small and shareable plates such as winter squash bruschetta with roasted squash, herb-whipped brie, baby arugula, pomegranates and balsamic glaze.

“Our inspiration stems from seasonal produce available during this time and the chilly weather that comes with it,” culinary director Brian Crow tells Xpress. The short-rib Beef Wellington and the parsnip gnocchi, for example, incorporate winter root veggies and rich, warming spices. “To complement the richness, we like to incorporate in-season citrus, such as blood oranges and cumquats, providing a refreshing contrast.”

Old favorites, such as the CK Meatloaf with cheese grits, will remain. Though most items can be made to align with dietary restrictions, the menu also includes vegan mushroom Bolognese, which Crow calls a “must-have dish.”

The winter menu will pause through February as Corner Kitchen marks its 20-year anniversary with a throwback menu of guest favorites. It will resume in March and continue until April.

Corner Kitchen is at 3 Boston Way. The dinner menu begins at 5 p.m. daily. Visit avl.mx/bpl for reservations.

Poppy turns 10

In honor of its 10-year anniversary, Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn announces a rebrand of the company’s packaging and introduces three new flavors to its lineup.

The company tapped Made Outside, a Charlotte-based brand consultancy, to refresh the website and merchandise. The new design conveys “what makes POPPY tick,” says founder and CEO Ginger Frank in a press release. “The corn represents the farms we work with; the hearts represent the love we have for our community and the love that goes into making our popcorn. The sun and clouds remind us that both the sunny days and the cloudy days help us grow, and the smiley faces represent the fun of sharing your favorite popcorn with your favorite friends.”

The company’s three new flavors take inspiration from international cuisine. Mexican Street Corn is a creamy, cheesy flavor that incorporates ancho chile, lime, cumin and chipotle. Mediterranean Herb is also cheesy with oregano, garlic, lemon, basil and thyme. Carribean Jerk, a vegan option, is made with citrus, brown sugar and crispy plantain chips.

“Snack flavors around the world are so incredibly varied and interesting,” says Frank in the same release. “I’m always striving to expand Poppy’s flavor palette.” She and her team taste-tested 10 international flavor ideas after a trip she took to Italy with her kids. ”These three came out on top! We can’t wait to share the new flavors — I know people will love them.”

The company is also bringing back three customer-favorite flavors, Dill Pickle, Chai Latte and Southern Pecan Pie, in honor of the anniversary.

To learn more about Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn, visit avl.mx/ch3

Hush-hush at the Haywood Park Hotel

The Haywood Park Hotel is hosting a “sip-and-spin” jazz soiree on Tuesday, Feb. 13. The speakeasy-themed event takes place from 5:30-9:30 p.m. in the mysteriously named Laundry Room.

The Laundry Room is “where spirits are poured, the music swings and the ambiance whispers secrets,” according to the hotel’s Instagram post. The event speaks to the history of the hotel, which is in the Prohibition-era Bon Marche building.

Local jazz musician Russ Wilson and His Suds of Swing will be playing a set alongside Wendy “Bubbles” Jones. To access the clandestine soiree, approach the front desk with the following password: “Where can I pick up my hotel dry cleaning?” A coordinator will then direct you through a coat rack into a cozy cellar where the event takes place.

Haywood Park intends for the Laundry Room to make a return in the future. “We’re trying to promote the identity of the Haywood Park Hotel,” says Mike Lovett, a spokesperson for the event. “If it goes really well, we may have more events like this later in the year.”

For future Laundry Room events, follow Haywood Park Hotel on Instagram @haywoodparkhotel. Haywood Park Hotel is at 1 Battery Park Ave. Tickets cost $5.

New wine and coffee partnership

Essy Hatchett, former owner of Trade and Lore Coffee, has partnered with her husband, Logan Hatchett, to unveil two new coffee shop and wine bar locations — on Weaverville Highway and on Wall Street in downtown Asheville.

Named Rite Rite, which refers to the twin rituals of wine and coffee, the shops feature a full menu of specialty coffee and espresso as well as pastries from Mother and Back Porch Baking Co. Both locations also offer a full wine program courtesy of Logan’s experience as a sommelier. “We wanted our name to reflect our passions,” Logan says. “I have over a decade of experience in wine, and Essy has over a decade of experience in coffee, so we wanted to bring our skills together.” Popular specialties include pistachio-rosewater syrup and house-made chai.

The space also functions as a 1750-foot event space with 50 seats, which the couple have already begun booking. Logan says they plan to begin hosting markets there as early as February.

Rite Rite also sells a variety of dry goods such as everyday oil, spices, candles and apparel.

Rite Rite is at 37 Wall St. Follow on Instagram @riteritenc.


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