Mounds of sweet potatoes

Local ministry provides free produce
Jul. 27, 2013 @ 05:37 AM

It is not every day that 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes are given away to the public.

Yet for Brad Shehan, director of the Stainless Ministry in Spindale, providing food for the hungry, needy and less fortunate is something he has been glad to do for several years.

"Poor nutritional choices come with poverty and the ministry focuses on providing healthy foods to the community, like fruits and vegetables," Shehan said.

Shehan moved to Rutherford County nearly seven years ago from Hendersonville, seeing the need to help feed people in the county.

He founded the Stainless Ministry with his father after they witnessed a packing house throwing away food.

The Stainless Ministry coordinates with local farmers, volunteers and food-providing agencies to gather nutritious produce from fields and orchards after the harvest, including sweet potatoes. Truckloads of unmarketable potatoes and other produce donated by the agricultural community are then delivered to the hungry, needy and less fortunate.

"This is our fifth year giving away thousands of sweet potatoes and we have continued to keep our purpose of feeding Rutherford County," Shehan said. "Last year we gave away 1.75 million pounds of food."

By 1 p.m. on Friday, a line of cars driven by people interested in receiving the sweet potatoes snaked through the narrow street behind the ministry and spilled out into the front parking lot.

Volunteers from Fellowship Holiness Church in Spindale, Rose of Sharon Missionary in Canton and Brothers In Christ Outreach Ministry in Shelby sorted, bagged and distributed sweet potatoes to hundreds of community members.

Each car received two bags per family, up to two families, and according to Shehan nearly 700-800 cars showed up to receive the produce last year.

"We felt like we could really make a difference here," Shehan said. "We've kept bringing the food in and giving it out."