Every year, Haven of Mercy Ministries, a transition house and homeless shelter located in Johnson City, serves a Thanksgiving Dinner to those less fortunate in Johnson City. This year, ETSU’s new food service provider, Sodexo, and the ETSU Department of Sustainability helped Haven of Mercy to make a difference.

Sodexo’s role in Haven of Mercy’s meal involved helping to coordinate the event and provide the food that was served. As many students may know, Sodexo had their “Thanksgiving Feast” in the marketplace on Wednesday. In order to help make a difference, they donated the leftovers to Haven of Mercy to be served to the public. At the dinner, Haven of Mercy served over 200 people and the food was very well received and accepted.


Kayla Tucker, Sodexo’s ETSU Marketing Manager, said the company’s newly launched Food Recovery Network initiative is a way to ensure that all food that isn’t served on the line is not wasted. Thanks to this initiative, Sodexo donates the food to local food banks and pantries.

ETSU’s Department of Sustainability was able to volunteer their time to help serve the food. Kathleen Moore, director of sustainability, said that they had eight people volunteer.

Haven of Mercy and the services that it provides function entirely on a donation basis. This means that their funds, the food they serve every night, and their ability to assist the community relies on the charitable acts of others. Even then, any leftovers that Haven of Marcy has is donated to other parts of the community, including the Unicoi County Jail and the local women’s shelter.

Haven provides a safe shelter to over 150 homeless men every day, providing hot meals, hot showers, a clean bed and protection from the outdoor elements. Each day, their pastor, Grant Rockley, preaches a sermon to those who come and eat.

Along with helping to feed others, Haven also provides ministry and counseling to those who request it, provide work programs and assistance with educational enrollment, and do their best to provide clothing to those in need. Tony Bartley, Haven of Mercy’s assistant director, said the organization provides boxed meals from Tuesday to Saturday for those who come and ask.