For the last 25 years, Loaves & Fishes has been helping feed poor and underprivileged Upstate residents. The nonprofit goes to grocery stores, restaurants and catered events, gets the food that would otherwise be wasted and redistributes it to agencies that feed the hungry. That might be a soup kitchen or a food pantry or an after-school program for at-risk youth.
In 2015, Loaves & Fishes rescued 1.9 million pounds of food, says development coordinator Tessa Porter. Donors include BI-LO, Publix, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. “The employees hate to see that food going to waste,” Porter says. “They’re always so glad that we’re able to take that perfectly good food and put it into the hands of the people who need it.”
Loaves & Fishes relies on donations, grants and fundraisers like the annual Rock Out Hunger concert for their funding. This year’s event is the sixth annual Rock Out Hunger, and it’s the biggest yet. The event will take place at Fluor Field on Thursday, and the headlining band is the popular Southern rock band Drivin’ N’ Cryin’. Together since the early ’80s, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ is one of the most enduring rock bands in the country, maintaining a large regional fan base on the strength of hits like “Build a Fire,” “Straight to Hell” and “Fly Me Courageous.”
“We have a wonderful committee of people who help us plan our events, in particular Katie Plowman who used to be with The Handlebar,” Porter says. “We sat down with her and Trevor Gordon from our title sponsor Sandlapper Securities LLC, who’s a huge music fan. We talked to local musicians just to kind of get an idea of who they would want to see. We’ve been trying to elevate the types of bands we’ve been bringing in, and Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ was a favorite of ours. We’re just thrilled to have them.”
Also on the bill is Hans Wenzel, a former Upstate resident now living in Charleston who’s playing with his new band, The Eighty Sixers. Wenzel says that the band, who just released two new digital singles, “Last Train” and “Devil’s Tea,” are thrilled to be involved for a couple of reasons. “We like to help out a good cause when we can, and we get to play with Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ in the process,” Wenzel says. “It’s a win-win.”
This is the event’s first year at Fluor Field. “We like to keep things downtown just for ease of access to bring in the maximum number of people, and we also hope to continue to grow it,” Porter says. “What we were looking for was a forever home for the event, one where, no matter how big we get, we can have it at Fluor Field.”
The idea, Porter says, is to move beyond the 250-300 people who typically come attend Rock Out Hunger. “The vast majority of those people are people who support Loaves & Fishes and are going to come out no matter what we do,” she says. “But we’re hoping that this year with Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, because they are so popular, we’ll bring in a crowd that have never heard of us and will get a chance to share the message with them.”
Rock Out Hunger 2016, featuring Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ with Warner Hodges and Hans Wenzel & The Eighty Sixers
When: Thursday, Sept. 29th, 7 p.m.
Where: Fluor Field, 945 S. Main St., Greenville
Info: 864-232-3595; loavesandfishesgreenville.com