During Easter week, while many are focused on meal preparations and coming together with their families, the Food Lion Feeds team understands that a great many others are not as fortunate. Hundreds of food-insecure families must make tough choices during holidays and celebrations, putting necessities like bills over extravagances like holiday meals.
As part of its mission to provide 500 million meals by 2020, and because Food Lion believes no one should have to make these tough decisions, the Food Lion Feeds team worked to provide thousands of meals through its "Easter Eats" campaign. Be it through regional donation events or a massive protein donation to partner food banks, we worked to make the Easter holiday brighter for our neighbors in need in key markets experiencing an increased amount of food insecurity issues.
To kick the week of, the team partnered with Golden Harvest Food Bank in Augusta, Ga., to provide 100 meals complete with fresh foods and private brand grocery items to local families in need.
"We have over eight volunteers here from Food Lion and they're going to bless our community," said Travis McNeal, executive director of Golden Harvest Food Bank. Because of what they're doing here today, we're going to be able to feed 1,333 individuals in our community this week."
“It’s certainly sad that people have to choose between whether or not to pay a bill or buy food for their children,” Food Lion employee and Golden Harvest Volunteer, Paula Thomas, said with tears in her eyes.
The team traveled to Henderson N.C., next, partnering with Shiloh Baptist Church to provide another 100 meal bags to local families identified by the church that wouldn't have otherwise had the opportunity to enjoy an Easter meal with their families.
"This donation will help a great deal of people who are in need in this community, Malone reflected after the donation event. "We are truly grateful for the chance to make this a great Easter for so many this year."
Smithfield also worked with Food Lion to donate 100 hams at each of the donation events.
“At Smithfield, we feed people—it’s what we do,” said Dennis Pittman, senior director of hunger relief for Smithfield Foods. “We are honored to partner with Food Lion Feeds for this donation, which is part of our national Helping Hungry Homes® hunger-relief initiative. These meal packages will provide high-quality protein and support to many families in the Augusta, Ga., area who may have gone without this holiday weekend.”
And, the "Easter Eats" campaign wasn't over yet. On Tuesday, April 11, and Wednesday, April 12, Food Lion partnered with the Meat Category team to donate more than 200,000 pounds of fresh meat to 10 regional food bank partners across our 10-state footprint, including Chattanooga Area Food Bank (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina (Winston-Salem, N.C.), MANNA Food Bank (Asheville, N.C.), FeedMore/Central Virginia Food Bank (Richmond, Va.), Feeding America Southwest Virginia Food Bank (Salem, Va.), Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (Raleigh, N.C.), Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina/Action Pathways (Fayetteville, N.C.), Food Bank of the Albemarle (Elizabeth City, N.C.), Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (Verona, Va.) and Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank (Fredericksburg, Va.).
The donations were impactful and the need for donations was quickly evident as our food bank partners sent notes and even took to social media to express thanks for our gift, which would transform the Easter holiday from one of tough choices, to one of nutrition and celebration for thousands of families across our operating area.
"Thank you Food Lion friends!", said Pamela Irvine, president and CEO of Feeding America Southwest Virginia. "Protein donations are very important to our work. This donation is awesome!"
"We’re thrilled with the donation and the myriad ways Food Lion is supporting food banks," said Michael McKee, CEO of Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Please extend our appreciation to the entire Food Lion team."
MANNA Food Bank even posted a video of the actual donation to YouTube, detailing how many families would benefit from the massive donation of frozen chicken.
"This week, MANNA Food Bank received a huge donation, making great use of our giant freezer. 37,150 pounds of frozen chicken for 30,958 meals for western North Carolina families! Thanks to our friends at Food Lion!"
To keep up with the Food Lion Feeds team, follow us on Twitter @FoodLionNews or check back here on our Lion's Tale Blog.