Pie with a Purpose

In Feature Stories, November 2018 by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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Photographs by Food-Seen

In Raleigh, a pie can do a whole lot more than feed your family on Thanksgiving. A pumpkin pie can provide consistent medical care to an uninsured neighbor. A chocolate chess pie can supply job training and life skills education to folks who are unemployed. And a pecan pie can ensure free counseling and mental health services to those in the community who can’t afford it. How, you might ask? Through Share the Pie, an annual program that benefits the joint missions of StepUp Ministry and Alliance Medical Ministry.

Share the Pie began here in Raleigh in 2015, after the executive directors of StepUp and Alliance learned about Pie in the Sky, a Boston fundraiser where approximately 25,000 pies are sold each year, raising close to a million dollars to provide meals for critically ill people.

StepUp and Alliance decided to recreate the effort in order to highlight the partnership between the two ministries and to raise money for their affiliate programs which cover healthcare, career development, financial planning and a Cooking Matters class that teaches healthy cooking and eating habits.

“It’s really us wrapping our arms around families in our community who are trying to pull themselves up but don’t have the resources to do that,” says Kathryn Holding, the development and communications director at Alliance Medical Ministry.

Each year, several well-known bakers, catering companies, churches and eateries participate in the Share the Pie program. Most of us are going to bake or buy a pie for Thanksgiving dinner anyway, so why not acquire one from one of
Raleigh’s best chefs, such as Jason Smith, or best restaurants, like The Angus Barn or Saint Jacques?

Each of the committed bakers must produce at least 12 chocolate chess, pecan or pumpkin pies, which a group of dedicated volunteers then collect just before Thanksgiving and distribute to buyers at designated locations across Raleigh and Cary. Another fun part of Share the Pie is that buyers won’t know who baked their pie until they get home and open up their box. You might receive one from a renowned chef, or you might get one from a neighbor or a friend.

“I enjoy it, and I enjoy the fact that you’re baking something for someone and you don’t know who they are and they don’t know who you are,” says baker Tiffany Ivy of Cutie Boops Custom Cakes & Catering. “I like baking for families who are going to be purchasing these pies to be shared at Thanksgiving time and the fellowship I know I will be a part of by just doing my baking.”

Ivy got involved in the program last year through her brother, James Ivy, who graduated from StepUp Ministry in 2017. He reached out to StepUp three years ago in an effort to get his life back on track after realizing he needed to make some personal changes. During his tenure with the program, Ivy has managed to turn his life around, going from homeless to owning his own business, Executive Grooming Services—all of this, he says, he owes to the support he received from StepUp Ministry and Alliance Medical Ministry.

“I would have to say, they saved my life,” says James Ivy. “They were a major contributor in helping me get my life back on track and providing the redemption that I needed in my life for me to be productive.”

Ivy’s story is an inspiration for all of those who find their way to StepUp or Alliance, showcasing how these ministries’ programs are effective in their missions.

“I think that you can take this pie and start a conversation,” says Lanier McRee, a volunteer and member of the Junior League of Raleigh. “I think you could take it to Thanksgiving somewhere and start a conversation about more than pie, about what Thanksgiving should be about. That’s what really resonated with me and why I enjoy this so much.”

The conversation that Alliance Medical Ministry and StepUp Ministry hope to start through Share the Pie is one of family, fellowship and giving back to the community. Share the Pie proceeds are split 50-50 between the two nonprofits, benefitting their dual missions to provide access to employment and healthcare for those in need in Wake County. This year, their goal is to sell 3,000 pies and raise $100,000. 

So, this year on Thanksgiving, take the time to think about more than just the plentiful meal that you’ll enjoy. Buy a chocolate chess, pecan or pumpkin pie from Share the Pie and give back to those who may not be able to afford the same bounty. After all, sharing is caring, and there are plenty of slices to go around.

Visit sharethepie.org to learn how you can buy, bake, sell or volunteer this year.

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