Virginia residents glean egg plants for local food kitchens.
Mike Smith makes a difference
By Charlie Overton
“The best kept secret of the UMC”—that’s how Mike Smith describes The Society of St. Andrew (SoSA).
A former president of the Holston Conference of UM Men, Smith says he had never heard of SoSA until he attended the 2008 National Gathering of UM Men where Wade Mays, national Meals for Millions coordinator, showed a video of sweet potatoes being dumped into a landfill.
“I think about all that God provides,” said Smith. “We waste so much.”
Since discovering SoSA, Mike has been an enthusiastic advocate in Tennessee. Between organizing crop drops at his home congregation, Concord UMC, and gleaning projects in the greater Knoxville area, he has helped save . . . well . . . tons of food.
In 2010, he helped organize his first crop drop of what he thought would be potatoes, but the produce changed several times until finally a truck filled with watermelons arrived.
“Sometimes you just have to roll with it,” he said.
Since that first drop, Mike has organized seven crop drops of everything from sweet potatoes to yogurt.
One of the top-ranked agricultural programs in the U.S, the University of Tennessee, operates farms that enable future farmers to explore new techniques and technologies. For two years, Mike and volunteers from the Knoxville area have gleaned UT farms to provide fresh produce for several area agencies.
“Knoxville is the 26th hungriest metro area in the country,” he notes. “That means there is a lot left to do. This isn’t hard work, and I always get so much more than I give.”
UM Men has officially worked with Society of St. Andrew in the “Meals for Millions” ministry since 1998.
Charlie Overton has been the program coordinator for the Society of St. Andrew ministry in Tennessee, and now represents SoSA in Kansas.