Mike Smith Makes a Difference

By Charlie Overton

The best kept secret of the United Methodist Church”— that’s how Mike Smith describes The Society of St. Andrew. A former president of the Holston Conference of United Methodist Men, Smith recalls his first encounter with SoSA at a 2008 national conference in Nashville. “I had never heard of SoSA”, he says, “but Wade (Wade Mays, national Meals for Millions coordinator) was there showing the SoSA video of sweet potatoes being dumped into the landfill.”

Mike Smith

Mike Smith (center) first heard about SoSA at a conference in Nashville in 2008. He’s been an inspirational volunteer and leader in gleaning ever since.

After finding out more about SoSA’s work, Smith says it made powerful sense: “I think about all that God provides. 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 markets 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. As he’s been known to say, “Sometimes you just have to roll with it.” Since that first drop, Mike has organized a total of seven crop drops in the Knoxville area, working with everything from sweet potatoes to yogurt.

One of the top-ranked agricultural programs in the U.S, the University of Tennessee operates student farms as classrooms for future farmers to explore new techniques and technologies. Mike and volunteers from the
Knoxville area have gleaned the UT farms for two years and recovered a variety of fresh produce to take to several area agencies around the Knoxville area.

“Knoxville is the 26th hungriest metro area in the country,” he notes, “and that means there is a lot left to do.” Mike says,” This isn’t hard work. I always get so much more than I give.” Mike should know; he is humble and always appreciates the opportunity to serve. You don’t find a volunteer like him every day.

Note: United Methodist Men has officially worked with Society of St. Andrew since 1998. This initiative, called Hunger Relief Advocates, is designed to help the United Methodist Church engage in ministry to and with the poor and hungry, under leadership of United Methodist Men. The Meals for Millions giving program provides the funding for this program. LEARN MORE



In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.