Cooking and catering food that feeds the soul

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 16, 2024

By Kenneth Hardin 

For the Salisbury Post

“I call what I cook soul food because everything I make is good for the soul.”  That’s how Shaina Newton, owner of CityFoods Catering, LLC, responded when I asked what style of food her cooking could be categorized as. I noticed a subtle innocent grin covering her face as she seemed to pause momentarily in brief, deep reflection. After sitting with this strong woman of faith, who has turned tragedy in her life into triumph, I understood what the smile represented. 

Newton moved to Salisbury from Church Hill, Virginia, back in 2019, settling here with her husband and two kids after he accepted a job transfer to our city. Sadly, he was killed in a motorcycle accident three years later and she found herself a young widow with two small daughters to raise. Instead of losing herself in the enormity of the tragedy and fearing the new chapter of her life as a single mother, she internalized her pain and used it as motivation to ensure she would continue to provide a good life for her children. 

Newton was already a skilled professional cook and caterer before she trekked down south to our city limits. Armed with a B.S. degree in health and nutrition science from the Virginia Commonwealth University, she was the lead caterer at the Bank of America headquarters in Virginia from 2011-2016. After setting down roots here, she accepted a supervisory catering role at a local college, but when the tragedy hit, it motivated her to leave and strike out on her own. She admitted being unfamiliar with all that was involved in starting a business but mentioned two angels in disguise that helped put her on the right path to success. She credits the Rowan Public Library for its assistance by introducing her to a wealth of information and resources. She mentioned some of the free state certifications she took at the library, one which is an integral part of the diverse myriad of services she offers. She received a food and delivery service certification and now uses it to provide her tasty delights by request to employees at the Salisbury VA Medical Center, the Food Lion warehouse and corporate office and NY Air Brake. Her kind heart and generous nature was evident in just talking with her but it was revealed further when she shared that college students often call her for meals, and when they’re short of cash, she’ll waive delivery costs and at times simply give it to them free of charge.

Her altruistic food endeavors reach far beyond the collegiate level. Every week, she provides the meals free of charge for the Girl Scouts program at the Moore’s Chapel AME Zion Church. She voluntarily prepares meals for a senior disabled resident and has recently taken on mentoring a young woman who wants to follow in her catering footsteps. She’s teaching her both the meal preparation and business side while allowing her to shadow at events. Newton was firm in her position that she wanted her business to be built on the foundation of female empowerment: “I want to employ women of diverse ethnic backgrounds, ages and abilities. I want young girls to see that they can be leaders.”  

She acknowledges that she doesn’t have employees but instead has “trusted friends” who assist her in providing services. While she handles the majority of the heavy cooking, her partner, Frances Davis, is responsible for the array of wonderfully delicious and visually stunning sweet treats she offers. 

When I asked Newton how she became such a gifted cook, the reflective smile from earlier became clearer. The grin returned to her face as she explained that she learned her gift from her late grandfather as a child in Virginia. She fondly recounted how she was raised in his kitchen helping him prepare food to serve in his off-the-book home-based business where you could get a good glass of liquor and an even better meal. She laughs as she recalls how immediately after coming home from school, she was tasked with chopping cabbage and seasoning meats before being allowed to play outside. She said being in that community familial environment and seeing the joy her grandfather’s food brought, she knew he was feeding souls, and that’s the same feeling she wants to bring here with her food.  

According to Newton, she can cook for anyone, any appetite or any food restriction. In addition to traditional offerings, she offers vegan, puree and food supplement replacement menus. She has provided services for outdoor events of 500 attendees, weddings, baby showers, graduations, funeral repasses and even offers intimate in-home services for special occasions like wedding anniversaries and Valentine’s Day celebrations. She’s fast becoming the go-to caterer for events. She’s provided services for the Veterans Social Center on three occasions. Recently, after a veteran funeral our facility assisted with and she catered, an attendee said, “She handled the catering for the funeral luncheon we had and we couldn’t have been happier. Shaina and her team were wonderful and the food was outstanding.”

CityFoods recently provided the meal for the city-sponsored Elizabeth Koontz Humanitarian Awards program. She credits her second angel, Salisbury City Councilman and local business owner, Harry McLaughlin, for that contract and for helping her find stability. He’s allowed her to prepare food in his grocery store, which she calls a huge blessing.

Newton was proud to share she’s opening a physical location on Sept. 1 at 1024 S. Fulton St. Her menu can be found on Instagram, Next Door, Yelp, or her website at Contact her directly at 804-773-6086 or