Neighbors Feeding Neighbors on the Move
By Tim Gardner
Mitchell County, NC
The Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry has achieved milestones of remarkable proportions in the past three years. And this organization, which serves Mitchell, Avery, and Yancey counties, is on a path for another record-breaking year in 2021 and even more future growth in upcoming years.
Founded in 2018 by Amy and Allen Hoilman, residents of the mountain hamlet of Buladean in Northwest Mitchell County, the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry, Inc. is a non-profit Christian-based organization currently based in the Altapass Community of Mitchell County. It is dedicated to eliminating hunger by any means possible including monetary donations, volunteerism and/or food donations. The Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry is operated totally by volunteers and all of its food programs are offered free of charge.
Allen said he felt in her heart that the Lord wanted him and Amy to start this ministry to help local people in need. But he didn’t believe then that he and Amy were capable of starting it. He and Amy kept the idea in mind and most importantly, in their hearts for two years. Then God showed them an unmistakable sign and as Allen said we “let go and let God!”
Amy added: “We need it then the right time for us to start our ministry. God gave us the means and it’s grown by leaps and bounds since. What started as helping three families in late February 2018, has grown to more than several thousand families we help in the three-county region each year.”
Neighbors Feeding Neighbors partners with the MANNA FoodBank, a private, not-for-profit service organization that links the food industry with over 200 partner agencies in 16 Western North Carolina counties to get food to families’ tables. MANNA stands for Mountain Area Nutritional Needs Alliance. Both Neighbors Feeding Neighbors and MAA Food Bank helps individuals and families who are struggling with food insecurity.
Statistics of the number of people fed and lives touched the past three-and-a-half years by the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Ministry includes:
Community Meals Delivered to Shut-Ins-1
Pounds of Food Distributed-192,113
Community Meals Served-21
Families Served 16,185
MANNAPACKS Provided for Children-5,356
Pounds of Food Distributed-735,798
Community Meals Delivered to Shut-Ins-11
2021 (As of May 21)
Families Served- 4,913
MANNAPACKS Provided for Children-1,164 (These include personal care items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, and toiletries).
Pounds of Food Distributed-275,020
Community Meals Delivered toShut-Ins-1,156
Food Boxes Distributed-56
Community Meals Delivered to Shut-Ins-11
31.5 percent of all families in Mitchell County were served by the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry between July 1, 2019, and June 1, 2020.
Allen also added 2,300 miles have been driven so far this year by the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors staff and volunteers to help the needy.
“We reach out with love and respect to help families struggling to put food on their tables,” Allen noted. “We don’t judge the individuals or families we serve and we love them as ourselves. This ministry has touched many lives, many of which have decided to give back and volunteer their time to help others who are in need through our Neighbors Feeding Neighbors.”
While the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry requires a total team effort from its volunteers, but according to those who know them best, the Hoilmans are the two most instrumental in the success of the organization.
Still, the Hoilmans deflect credit they get for Neighbors Feeding Neighbors’ success and are excited about its future. “It’s all because of God; not us,” Allen stated. “God is just using us Amy, myself, and all our volunteers and others who have helped us in any manner to perform this ministry. Neighbors Feeding Neighbors is a whole team of wonderful volunteers, of whom besides Amy and I, consist of approximately 12-15 year-round.”
Allen considers the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry as a mission “as close to his heart as any,” adding: “One of my main objectives when we started, was that we wanted to witness it grow and evolve. Amy and I are proud that we have witnessed all of those goals become reality.”
When asked about the future of Neighbors Feeding Neighbors, Allen noted: “I believe that feeding of the hungry is scripturally based and the need in the Tri-Counties will keep growing as its population ages. When God opens a door for you to do a particular ministry, He expects you to go through that door and to carry out whatever role he has for you. And that’s what Amy and I are doing.”
Various Mitchell, Avery, and Yancey leaders and other citizens in those counties are in awe of the work the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry does. One such citizen is Mitchell County (and former Avery County) Manager Tim Greene.
“It’s very satisfying that our county has such wonderful volunteer service organizations like the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry,” said Greene. “Amy and Allen Hoilman and their staff and volunteers do such a great job for the citizens of the Tri-Counties and others who need food help that it defies description. Neighbors Feeding Neighbors provides much-needed assistance to those who need it most and we’re most grateful for this ministry.”
The Holman’s added that the ultimate hope of the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Ministry is that there is no longer a need for their work.
“We would like to work ourselves out of this job in the sense that our work is no longer needed,” Allen declared. “But I don’t doubt that will ever happen. There are always people who are hungry in almost every place on a map and that’s true in Mitchell, Avery, and Yancey counties. We enjoy our work and it is extremely rewarding. But it’s always our goal for our work in feeding others to not be needed. But if that ever happened, I don’t think it would last long. There’s likely going to always people in our area in this life who needs food.”
Neighbors Feeding Neighbors has various other programs at its headquarters on Jacksontown Road in the Altapass for all who wish to attend. Those include yard sales (from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.) and a devotional service (starting at 10:00 a.m.) each day, Monday through Friday.
Neighbors Feeding Neighbors hosted a revival in the barn on its premises from June 14 through 18, beginning at 7:00 p.m. each evening. It featured local minister, Reverend Jim Shoupe. Additionally, the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry will host a special Independence Day Festival at its headquarters all day and evening on July 4 (10:00 a.m. until late into the evening).
For further information about the Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry, call (828) 592-4089; write via U.S. Mail: Neighbors Feeding Neighbors Food Ministry, 14 Jacksontown Road, Spruce Pine, NC 28777; or log onto the organization’s Internet website at: nfnfoodminsitry.org. Its office hours are from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Tim Gardner is a journalist and a life-long resident of the North Carolina Mountains. His feature stories, columns, and news and sports articles have appeared in various national, regional, local, and specialty publications. Tim has worked as a publicist for Martin Cook and the Inspirations Quartet as well as Associate Features Editor for Singing News magazine. He also served as the project assistant, wrote the foreword to, and named the What A Wonderful Time book, a history of the Inspirations. Additionally, Tim co-wrote the Legend and Legacy book, a history of the Weatherford Quartet.
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