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Laurel Zaks Community Kitchen

The Laurel Zaks Community Kitchen was dedicated on May 14, 2010, in memory of Laurel Zaks, a passionate advocate for the alleviation of hunger and suffering through nutrition education. She was a beloved MANNA FoodBank volunteer.

If you would like to specifically support Laurel’s Community Kitchen programs, please use the online donations tab, choose “in memory of someone” on the Purpose of Donation pull-down list, then type Laurel’s name or “Laurel’s Kitchen” in the Message box.


“Laurel’s Kitchen” builds the community’s capacity to end hunger in Western North Carolina through hands-on learning about food, including:

  • Wise and healthy food choices
  • Basic nutrition
  • Simple, tasty meals and
  • Food safety


The kitchen will be available to parties external to MANNA FoodBank to use for the following:

  • Cooking classes
  • Nutrition courses
  • How to prepare produce
  • Food safety classes

Quotes about Laurel

“Laurel was very dear to me. I have come to realize that just as she touched my life, she touched lives of many others wherever she traveled. Once completed, this kitchen will continue Laurel’s legacy by touching many lives while positively affecting nutritional health across western North Carolina.” Leah Karpen

“Laurel Zaks was like a little sister, my teacher, and my soul friend. She came to MANNA in May of 1992 when we were on Garfield Street. She said, ‘I am a nutritionist, put me to work.’ New on the job, I replied, ‘MANNA needs for you to teach us how to use a nutritionist’. Laurel’s Kitchen is the outcome of her 20-year dedication and passion towards alleviating hunger and suffering through education. I am so appreciative of your support.” Leigh Pettus

“I had the pleasure of meeting Laurel through the food bank shortly after I moved to Asheville in 1993 and began volunteering. I was ‘unskilled’ volunteer labor, a box packer, but Leigh thought Laurel and I would connect and introduced us. I’ve never met anyone so passionate about food! Preparing it, sharing it, enjoying it, and— most importantly— ensuring that everyone had access to it. Laurel introduced me to many foods that were, for me at the time, quite exotic. She took such pleasure in cooking for the people she loved that much of our friendship blossomed over a lovingly prepared dinner. Her sense of justice and service found an application in her career as a nutritionist. I remember walking around the MANNA warehouse with her so she could see what food was there and work on creating menus for people who used the food bank. And I remember stories and images of the malnourished children she fed to health in Ecuador. Laurel loved MANNA and I know her memory is honored by the kitchen.” By Tricia Forbes, a former MANNA volunteer and close friend to Laurel.

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