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In 2014, a Food Lion supermarket in southern Nash County committed with other grocery stores in the chain to donate 500 million meals by the end of 2020. Last week, the grocery giant announced it has reached its goal more than 18 months early.
“We have a feeding agency that picks up the food that we can no longer sell every day,” said Jimmy Massey, general manager of Food Lion in Spring Hope. “It’s better to go to a plate than to a landfill. It’s nice to know that somebody’s getting a meal and can eat.”
With one in eight people, including one in six children, facing hunger across its 10-state footprint, Food Lion set out five years ago to help its neighbors by launching Food Lion Feeds, the company’s hunger relief initiative.
“Each of these 500 million meals has helped one of our neighbors who did not know where their next meal would come from — children, seniors, service members, veterans and families across our footprint who were faced with the impossible choices caused by hunger,” Food Lion President Meg Ham said in a news release. “We won’t accept that many of our neighbors are food-insecure and struggle to nourish their families, so we felt compelled to take action by uniting with our customers and partners to eliminate the choices families are forced to make when they are hungry.”
Massey said working on the hunger relief effort, most recently donating $3,000 to local food pantry A Touch of the Father’s Love, has been an exciting and humbling experience.
“Nobody should have to choose between food and rent. I’m humbled to work for an organization that serves our towns and cities,” Massey said. “We did a pantry makeover for them when they were in Battleboro. It’s great just to be around there, the atmosphere and everyone willing to help out.”
Across the footprint, the retailer worked with its national hunger relief partner, Feeding America, and the 30 Feeding America-affiliated food banks across Food Lion’s 10-state service territory to identify opportunities to help the hungry. Additionally, Food Lion Feeds has made significant capital campaign commitments to partner food banks to increase access to nutritious food and create life-changing programs, including a $1.5 million gift to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in Charlotte, a $1.2 million gift to Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina in Raleigh, a $1 million gift to Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, South Carolina, a $350,000 gift to Feeding America Southwest Virginia in Roanoke and a $300,000 gift to the Lowcountry Food Bank in Charleston, South Carolina.
“This is a partnership,” Massey said. “We’re here to feed our community and to work together. It takes everybody’s support. Our community helps. We help. There’s just help from everybody. This is a small town. You get to meet people and you know them by name. This is our country home.”
Through these partnerships and the efforts of Food Lion associates, customers and other partners over the past five years, Food Lion Feeds donated 500 million meals through a combination of product, financial and equipment donations; disaster relief and recovery efforts; volunteer hours by associates; in-store retail campaigns; the company’s food rescue program to donate food before it perishes; and other sources.
“Our commitment to donate 500 million meals was significant, but it was about so much more than a number,” said Ham. “Nourishing our neighbors in the towns and cities we serve is what we do. So, we’re proud of achieving our goal and grateful to our customers and community partners who have helped us achieve it. We also recognize that there is more vital work to be done.”