Charlotte caterer turns crisis into comfort

Charlotte caterer turns crisis into comfort

A Charlotte catering company is using its resources to help many struggling families in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

With children missing school meals, seniors being asked to stay safely in their homes, those in need of food who are quarantined and employees in our community being impacted by reduced work hours, food insecurity is growing every day.

For executive chef Nate Turner, his normally thriving catering business has come to a halt, but he has turned the crisis of COVID-19 into a way for him to comfort others.

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“The coronavirus has really decimated our community,” Turner said.

“It’s disheartening to see hundreds of family members pulling up to our food bank to get groceries to feed their family.”

Turner and many other community heroes volunteer at the Wedgewood Church food pantry. In the past, the pantry has normally served 40 families a week, but since the COVID-19 crisis the pantry has seen more than a 500% increase in need.

The need is evident every Wednesday night at 7-8 p.m., when hundreds of families show up to get groceries. With no funding, all of the donations are given by caring community members.

Cars line up at Wedgewood Church to receive donated grocery items.
Cars line up at Wedgewood Church to receive donated grocery items.

“Many times, there are several families who are pulling up in one vehicle to get groceries,” Turner said. “We’re helping people who are really in need.”

Turner’s business, Your Custom Catering & Events, has been negatively impacted since this health crisis began.

“Our wedding season has been totally destroyed,” he said. “We had to reschedule major events; some of the events that we had booked have been pushed out into the fall or even later.”

Instead of folding up his kitchen apron, Turner has rolled up his sleeves to pitch in cooking hundreds of meals every day for those in need.

“Every day at lunchtime, we're feeding over 500 kids at five different locations all over Charlotte,” Turner said. “We partner with Hearts Beat As One, St. Luke’s Missionary Baptist Church, and we collect the donations and my team and I cook over 500 meals every day.”

Along with the meals for kids, this collaboration is also feeding homeless community members, too. These tens of thousands of meals that have been prepared are helping families fill the gap between bills and meals.

“I couldn’t just sit still, and we at the church just try to do as much as we possibly can because there are so many people in need right now.”

“We, as a small church, can’t do everything. It’s truly rewarding to see at the end of the night the impact we are able to make,” he said.

It is obvious that this team of caring Charlotteans will stay in place for as long as it takes, and they are working and serving every day.

Food donations can be dropped off at Wedgewood Church, 4800 Wedgewood Drive, in Charlotte.

There is an additional need at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina to purchase food boxes for Carolina residents who are struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.