During the week of Valentine's Day, many individuals celebrate love with their significant others. However, the Food Lion Feeds team recognizes that there are many in our communities who deserve to be celebrated. So, from Feb. 13 through Feb. 17, the team worked to show some "love" to six local soup kitchens doing outstanding work in their communities by recognizing each of them as a "Souper Star Kitchen."
As part of the recognition, Food Lion associates donated soup and other food items, as well as helped prepare and serve meals for hungry families in each community. In addition, every volunteer and staff member at the feeding agency received a $20 Food Lion gift card to show our appreciation, and the soup kitchen will receive a certificate of appreciation for receiving this honor. Below, we've recapped each event and what it meant for these communities and those who needed a little extra love this Valentine's Day week.
Feb. 13 – Montmorenci United Methodist Church in Asheville, N.C.
Asheville Residents Receive a Gift from the Heart
It started as just another event, another way of helping people. But it ended with hearts and stomachs changed forever. Food Lion kicked off its "Souper Star Kitchen" event in Asheville at Montmorenci United Methodist Church on Feb. 13, feeding more than 150 people a special pre-Valentine's Dinner.
"I am so glad that you all did this," one man said who came to get food. "Usually we don't have as many food choices, but Food Lion did it up this time. Thank you."
Led by Asheville region Director of Operations Dave Geater, more than 10 store associates cooked rice, chicken noodle soup and Philly Cheese steak sandwiches for the dozens of residents who came out for a hearty meal.
“Food Lion is a strong partner in the work to end hunger in Western North Carolina,” says Jen Waite, food sourcing director for MANNA FoodBank. “They support MANNA and a large number of our partner pantries through their regular food donations and participation in Feeding America’s direct retail pickup program. They are truly dedicated to helping ease the burden of hunger for families across WNC.”
The church, which is a MANNA FoodBank partner agency, feeds the local community once per week.
They also host a weekly food pantry, where anyone from the community can come for food support. Montmorenci UMC serves one of the poorest areas of Buncombe County, and is completely dependent on regular volunteers for all kitchen and pantry operations, according to theMountain Xpressnewspaper.
“Montmorenci volunteers work incredibly hard to provide enough food to the residents in their community that need help,” says Katy German, agency relations manager for MANNA FoodBank. “These committed volunteers are there every week of the year to make sure that no one misses a meal or a chance to fill their plates. We are so happy that Food Lion recognizes their hard work. We can’t imagine a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than a chance to recognize the huge amount of heart these volunteers pour into their community.”
Feb. 14 – Rescue Mission Ministries in Roanoke, Va.
Hunger Heroes and "Souper" Stars
Do you ever wonder where your next meal is coming from? In Virginia, more than 900,000 are faced with this extraordinary challenge.
For some, food insecurity means foregoing a meal to feed their child. For others, it means choosing to buy medicine or food for their family.
No matter what the situation is, sometimes we all need help and that's where Roanoke's hunger heroes step in.
Every day Roanoke Rescue Mission feeds healthy, warm meals to nearly 1,000 individuals throughout Roanoke County. Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, this soup kitchen is always available to help its neighbors in need.
In addition to feeding children, families and seniors, the Rescue Mission provides shelter and rehabilitation for individuals struggling with homelessness and addiction and works to provide the tools they need for success and self-reliance.
Because of their incredible work, Food Lion honored the Rescue Mission by recognizing them as a 2017 "Souper Star Kitchen." Including the Rescue Mission, Food Lion honored six feeding agencies across its 10-state footprint and provided volunteers to serve meals on Valentine's Day.
“We’re excited to turn our kitchen over to Food Lion for the afternoon,” said Rescue Mission Food Services Manager Pam Ferguson ahead of the event. "We serve hundreds of meals every day at the Mission and Food Lion has always been a generous partner. This takes it a step further and we know it will be a special Valentine’s Day treat.”
In addition to providing more than 1,300 meals, Food Lion gave gift cards and Valentine's Day treats for every volunteer at the mission.
Feb. 16 – Rowan Helping Ministries in Salisbury, N.C.
On Feb. 16, Food Lion Feeds recognized its hometown "Souper Star Kitchen," Rowan Helping Ministries, when they donated brunswick stew, chicken noodle soup and rice, and helped serve the lunch meal at Rowan Helping Ministries' Jeannie's Kitchen.
Food Lion associates joined with other dedicated volunteers to cook and serve lunch for 150 clients. After the service, each volunteer was given a $20 gift card and some sweet chocolate from Food Lion Feeds to thank them for their commitment to the community.
Feb. 17 – Samaritan Ministry in Winston-Salem, N.C.
On Feb. 17, Food Lion Feeds traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C. to bring a donation of beef stew, rice, fresh salad and toppings and dressing for lunch for about 250 clients fighting hunger. Food Lion associates prepared the room for service, assisted with the food preparation, sorted donated items to the soup kitchen, and served the meals. After the service, volunteers and soup kitchen staff were surprised with a chocolate bar and $20 Food Lion gift certificate from Food Lion Feeds to show our appreciation for all they do to feed hungry neighbors in need.
A volunteer expressed their appreciation, saying "They brought enough beef stew, salad and rice for 350 people to have lunch in our Soup Kitchen! Further, they provided six volunteers from Food Lion who helped prepare, serve and clean-up and even brought along chocolate $20 Food Lion gift cards. The staff and volunteers were so appreciative."
Feb. 18 – St. Pauls' AME Zion Church in Salisbury, Md.
A "Souper" Day in Salisbury, Md.
When the Maryland Food Bank was asked for a soup kitchen to honor during Valentine's Day week, they immediately recommended Ms. Laura and the St. Paul AME Zion Church Soup Kitchen. A group of volunteers serve 40 seniors in the Salisbury community on a weekly basis. Food Lion provided the food for the day and associates prepared, served and cleaned up after the meal.
This was a "day off" for Ms. Laura and her volunteers. They were served a meal and received gift cards and candy as a sign of appreciation for all they do to feed the hungry in their community. Ms. Laura commented, "We are so grateful for your time and support of our church and community members. Words cannot express our appreciation. Please come back! You are always welcome here."
Pat Miles, director of operations for Food Lion, joined other associated and said, "Thanks so much for the opportunity to be part of Food Lion feeds. I look forward to participating in more events in the future."
Maryland is home to more than 760,000 people who do not have enough to eat. Maryland communities are deeply impacted by food insecurity and seniors and are deeply affected. This was a day to celebrate and honor those that serve the senior population in Salisbury.
Feb. 19 – Bread of Life Outreach in Naoma, W.Va.
Food Lion Family Rallies to Bring Food and Joy to Residents of Naoma, W.Va.
Bread of Life Outreach soup kitchen sits nestled in the hills of Naoma, W.Va., where the coal mines have closed and many have to choose between dinner and rent and gas and groceries every month. The soup kitchen serves and delivers over 200 meals every Saturday to the many that do not have the resources to eat and cannot drive to pick up a meal. The kitchen is run solely by volunteers and it was a privilege and pleasure for Food Lion associates to celebrate and give the day off to over 15 volunteers.
When Brian Cowman, director of operations for the region, was asked to provide 8 to 10 volunteers, he eagerly agreed and brought along not 10, but 18 volunteers! The 18 Food Lion family members that showed up to prepare meals, serve and clean up were excited to help, although several left home at 5 a.m. to make it in time for the event.
One associate that works in produce even brought her daughter that works as a cashier at the same store. It was truly a family affair.
Dale Bollinger, Mountaineer Food Bank staff member commented, "I can’t tell you how good it was to meet so many members from the Food Lion family. What a blessing from your hearts!"
The soup kitchen director was overwhelmed when Food Lion presented gift cards and candy to volunteers. She cried tears of gratitude and joy when Store Manager Brian Cowman presented her with a certificate that designated the kitchen as a "Souper Star Kitchen."
To follow the Food Lion Feeds team and learn more about our hunger-relief initiatives, come back and visit our Lion's Tale Blog or follow us on Twitter @FoodLionNews.