As the weeks go on, it is amazing how fast time flies, and how many lives continue to be touched by Food Lion Feeds' The Great Pantry Makeover (TGPM) initiative.
As this journey continues, now long surpassing our year one and two goals of 30 pantries in 30 days as we push through to our Dec. 12 goal of 60 total makeovers, we're learning there is not a single coat of paint, wall of shelving, planted flower, or kind word that goes without impact for each every one of the food pantries our associate volunteers have worked to improve.
As we reflect on the 12 stories the team has captured below in TGPM's weeks six and seven, we hope you'll not only be uplifted by these tales of transformation, but also encouraged to know you too can make a difference in the lives of a neighbor in need by a simple donation of food, or even a few minutes of your time.
To recap for those of you just joining us, this year marks Food Lion Feeds' third annual "The Great Pantry Makeover" (TGPM) campaign. This year, the company expanded from 30 pantry makeovers to 60 across its 10-state footprint in honor of its 60th anniversary. And, leading up to our anniversary date of Dec. 12, Food Lion associates will donate more than 2.5 million meals and 2,000 volunteer hours in total as part of its largest associate volunteer initiative.
As a reminder, each week, you can keep up with the Food Lion Feeds team as we recap the impact we're making through The Great Pantry Makeover events here on our Lion's Tale blog. And, to keep up with TGPM events in real time, follow the excitement with daily updates on Twitter @FoodLionNews!
Oct. 23 – Clover, S.C.
"Building the foundation"
Pat Starr really knows her way around the building which houses the food pantry at True Word of God Church in Clover S.C.
After all, she did grow up in the building as a young child.
Given her background with the facility, she was acutely aware of how badly the floors needed repair. The destroyed tiles and damaged subfloor badly needed to be fixed, and she reached out to Food Lion for help. She was awarded funding through The Great Pantry Makeover program.
With the funds, Starr and her dedicated team were able to replace the floor and even add a much needed ramp in the front of the building and loading dock in the back to make it easier to transport food into the building before it is donated to community members in need every Wednesday.
"I am so excited!" Starr exclaimed during the makeover event. "My mom would be beside herself if she could see this now."
To cap off the makeover, local associates from the Food Lion located at 845 Bethel St. in Clover donated nearly 1,500 pounds of nutritious food to fill the pantry shelves and help end hunger in the area.
The pantry serves on average about 1,000 individuals every month. Now, Starr and her team have a more solid footing – and a safer floor – to feed more of their community members in need.
Oct. 24 – Cherryville, NC.
"A new beginning"
Brent Fulbright, the store manager at the Food Lion located at 1209 Shelby Hwy. in Cherryville, N.C., cares about his neighbors.
It's that care that led to his strong relationship with nearby Cherryville Area Ministries. Through Food Lion's retail recovery program, Brent's store donates food to the ministry's food pantry every week. An agency of Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, the ministry's food pantry serves hundreds of families in need every month.
But this week, through Food Lion Feeds' The Great Pantry Makeover initiative, Brent, associates at his store and associates from several surrounding communities descended on the ministry to completely renovate the food pantry.
The team donated all new shelving, repainted the walls, installed ventilation and of course, donated nearly 1,500 pounds of food to help end hunger in the community.
The following day, the local Chamber of Commerce and local dignitaries joined Brent and ministry leaders in cutting a ribbon to commemorate the new beginning for the agency's food pantry.
It was a great week of partnering together to serve community members in need and ensuring Cherryville Area Ministries has the tools and resources they need, which is what The Great Pantry Makeover is all about.
Oct. 25 – Providence, N.C.
"A bright future"
Right near the North Carolina-Virginia state line you will find the small city of Providence, N.C. That's where the food pantry at Shady Grove Methodist Church is located. The pantry, which is one of four Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest N.C.-affiliated food pantries in all of Caswell County, serves a rural area where nearly one in five adults, and one in four children, face food insecurity.
Serving over 300 families a month, the wonderful team at Shady Grove is working hard to change those statistics. And, the organization was a perfect Food Lion Feeds' The Great Pantry Makeover recipient this year.
This week, Food Lion associates from surrounding communities arrived at Shady Grove and repainted the pantry, donated and installed new shelving, delivered shopping carts, ramps to make the pantry handicapped-accessible and finally donated over 1,500 pounds of nutritious food to help end hunger in the area.
Notably, the makeover will help the pantry transition into a client-choice model, where clients will be able to browse the pantry and pick out items they specifically are interested in eating, rather than receive a bag of preselected items they may or may not enjoy.
"This partnership with Food Lion is such a blessing," said Peggy Robinson, Regional Outreach Manager for Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest N.C. "The food donated today is nutritious and is just what people want."
In addition to the collaboration shown this week, Shady Grove picks up food donations every week from the Food Lion store located in nearby Yanceyville, N.C.
Oct. 25 – Luray, Va.
"A total transformation"
What started out as a sunny day at Page One Food Pantry of Page County was made even brighter when more than 20 Food Lion associate volunteers showed up to help paint, clean and stock food.
Page One Food Pantry was one of 60 receipts of this year's The Great Pantry Makeover and Lois Schaffer, Director at Page One, was over the moon when she found out.
"I really couldn't believe it!" said Schaffer. "We just moved into our current building and were rushed to try and get all of these projects done. Without Food Lion's help, all of these would have been put on the back burner until next year."
Page One serves approximately 700 people per month and is the only pantry in all of Page County that helps feed people. And, that's not all they do. They also provide assistance to families seeking help with rent, utility bills and gas. A facility, called Skyline, assists those facing homelessness or were recently evicted, while Page One provides the rent for those displaced.
As if that wasn't enough, they also assist with covering dental work, help people apply for jobs, provide vouchers for clothing at the thrift shop and gas vouchers for those going through cancer in order to ensure they can receive the treatments they need.
"What Food Lion is doing for us today is wonderful" said Carol Gay, who has volunteered at Page One for two years now and also serves on the board. "We have trouble getting volunteers and most of them are in their 70's, so it's hard to get things done sometimes."
Even after all the painting, staining, cleaning and stocking was done, the Food Lion volunteers didn't stop there. They organized the pantry to make it look like the backroom of a Food Lion.
One volunteer even exclaimed that he'd never seen the facility so clean and organized!
"We came in with a Food Lion army today and we conquered everything the pantry needed us to do," said Michael Craig, director of operations for the area. "This is such a great cause and we're glad we could be here."
Oct. 27 – Richmond, Va.
"Painting for a purpose"
It's amazing how just one fresh coat of paint can transform any room, giving the room and the people in it a renewed feeling.
At Capital Area Partnership Uplifting People (CAPUP) in downtown Richmond, Va., a fresh coat of paint means more than just a brighter room. It means that the clients CAPUP serves will have a more dignified experience and the volunteers who work tirelessly every day a new sense of pride. Through the help of Food Lion volunteers armed with paint brushes, CAPUP was able to receive the much needed paint job for their pantry and client in-take room.
"I can't tell you how excited we are to have you all out here doing this today" exclaimed Dora Hall, who runs the food pantry. "We feel so blessed and you don't realize how much this helps us out."
CAPUP serves 700-800 families per month and is open five days a week to distribute food and provide social services, which means they get a lot of foot traffic and is why this paint refresh was so necessary. Food Lion also provided CAPUP with a new commercial freezer which will enable them to store more fresh food to distribute along with a food donation.
"This is what we mean when we say 'count on me' at Food Lion," said Kevin Martin, execution implementation specialist for Food Lion. "This has been really impactful for our team today."
Martin summed up the day perfectly when he said, "it's amazing what one coat of paint does. It's like the sun coming out on a rainy day."
Oct. 30 - Manassas, Va.
"Inspired to help"
Volunteer Willie Carter recently drove the Yeshua Church of God in Christ Pantry's red van packed with food down a local street in Manassas, Va.
All of a sudden, noticed a woman who was standing at the corner.
When he stopped and asked her if she would like some donated food from the pantry. The woman broke down crying.
He didn’t know that she had six children and they had just run out of food.
It's emotional stories like these that his wife, Diane, told Monday as a group of local Food Lion associates assembled shelves, painted and re-stocked the shelves at the pantry. The event was part of Food Lion's Third Annual Great Pantry Makeover.
"Oh gosh this is awesome," Diane Carter said during an interview at the event inside the church. "We needed this because we are limited in our budget. I have been needing shelves for well over a year. I only had three shelves and only USDA food could go on them. This makeover has enabled us expand the room and get more shelves so that we can give away more food."
Associates worked for more than two hours reorganizing the pantry, located in the church's fellowship hall making an impact both in the church and their own personal lives.
"This is the first time I have volunteered in a long time," said Matt Peterson, Food Lion Store 1208 Team leader. "It's eye-opening to come here today and see all of these associates donating their time.
Food Lion's impact at the pantry goes beyond Monday's makeover. The pantry works with their local Food Lion to get paper bags so they can fill them with food to deliver to local seniors. Food Lion has also awarded the pantry with grants in the past to help with their efforts.
"This renovation will help Yeshua Bread of Life Food Pantry better serve the people it reaches with food each month," said Sharon McBeth, retail donations coordinator of Capital Area Food Bank. "New shelving and refrigeration will help the pantry more effectively store and distribute fresh food and other items giving the pantry critical new capacity and advance e of the holiday season."
Associates ended their work by presenting a special plaque to commemorate the event, which Diane says she will hang for all to see when they visit the site. Associates also presented Capital Area Food Bank staff with a special recognition plaque recognizing its 19-year partnership with Food Lion.
"I just want to thank Food Lion so much," Diane Carter said. "To come to work and not just give us the money for this today is awesome."
Oct. 31 - King George, Va.
"Reality exceeds expectations"
Shawn Buckner-Barnes was all smiles on Tuesday.
It wasn't because of anything that she received personally; instead it was something Food Lion did to help her church and hungry people in the King George, Va., community.
"This is absolutely the biggest blessing," she said Tuesday as Food Lion associates armed in yellow t-shirts assembled new shelving in the background.
Barnes and her church are recipients of this year's The Great Pantry Makeover. Food Lion provided funds so they could buy new appliances, lighting, shelving and food for Salem Baptist Church Food Pantry.
It's been a while since the pantry has been able to purchase an abundance of fresh items to make available for its clients. But now, because of the new refrigerators and freezers provided by Food Lion, families will now have fresh items starting with this month's distribution.
Once the church was awarded The Great Pantry Makeover, the Salem Baptist Church Board approved additional space for the pantry to operate.
The pantry has operated out of a small space in the basement of the church for 17 years. They help more than 60 families a month and anyone who needs food gets it.
"There have been numerous times that me or my mom, who is also a pantry volunteer, have had to come and put together food boxes for people who show up on days that we are not open," she said.
Although the space is small, organizers set up the pantry so that people can come through and have space to shop.
"We allow them to shop for what they want because people have so many allergies and dietary restrictions," Barnes said. "One size doesn't fit all and they know exactly what they want and need."
After more than two hours, associates transformed the small, packed room into an organized space providing more room and food options for clients.
"When they said makeover, they meant makeover. I wasn't expecting all of this," one church member commented.
Nov. 1 – Richmond, Va.
Ephesus Pantry Director, Ms. Barbara, was concerned the space her clients visited each week did not look clean and inviting, and was constantly stressed about storage space.
Feeding over 150 clients each week was very difficult with limited freezer space. FeedMore Food Bank nominated Ephesus for a Food Lion Feeds' The Great Pantry Makeover because they knew the addition of a freezer, shelving, paint and food would help to alleviate strains on the pantry.
Food Lion associates painted the walls, built shelves, stocked the new shelves and freezer with food and then designed a new system that was more efficient and inviting for clients to make food selections.
Ms. Barbara was overwhelmed.
"The only thing that would make this day better would be if I were in heaven," Ms. Barbara explained to the volunteers. "We could not do what we do without Food Lion. We pick up donations from Food Lion stores four times a week. The associates today are so friendly, kind, hardworking and smart. They have made the pickup system so much better. I am truly grateful."
Several local officials stopped by during the day to thank Food Lion and inspect the progress.
"Ephesus has been serving this neighborhood for years," said Parker Agelastyo, City Council representative for the neighborhood, "It is in the midst of a food desert with a lot of seniors that are not mobile. We are grateful for Food Lion's commitment to help feed more clients and to feed them more efficiently."
"Food Lion gets it, added Kevin Rednick, FeedMore representative. "They are the only donor that makes the local connection to feeding agencies. Most other donors just give food, but do not understand our system of local agencies and their needs. The Great Pantry Makeover is our favorite program."
Nov. 1 – Albemarle, N.C.
A Neighbor to Count on
Stanly County Christian Ministries (SCCM) does a lot for their neighbors in need in Albemarle, N.C.
A clothing closet.
A soup kitchen.
A food pantry.
And it is SCCM's food pantry that was awarded a Food Lion Feeds' The Great Pantry Makeover this year.
This week, local Food Lion associates repainted the walls, cleaned and organized shelving and then donated food and restocked the pantry's shelves with over 1,400 pounds of nutritious food.
Serving over 600 individuals a month, the food pantry operates under a client-choice model, allowing clients to choose items they want to eat, rather than receiving a prepackaged bag of food items they may or may not eat.
Heather Kilde, the Executive Director at SCCM, said improving the aesthetics of the facility is a big deal.
"The nicer our building looks, the more pride we instill in our clients," says Kilde.
In between the painting and shelf-stocking, Kilde shared several stories about individuals and families that have come through SCCM. Her passion for helping others is clear, and our Food Lion family really enjoyed giving back to SCCM and helping set the organization – and its clients – up for future success.
Nov. 1 - Ahoskie, N.C.
"Seniors' saving grace"
The eldest citizens of the towns and cities we serve are some of the most recognizable faces of hunger. Having to choose between buying groceries and paying for medical care is an unfortunate decision many seniors have to make. Thankfully, seniors in Ahoskie, N.C. can count on help from the food pantry at Calvary Missionary Baptist Church when they are in need.
Three days a week, seniors at a local senior center in town receive deliveries of fresh produce and shelf stable items, many of which are donated to the pantry through Food Lion's Food Rescue program. Church volunteers are always eager to gather and prepare the donations for distribution, even during the coldest and warmest days of the season in this outdoor pantry.
The food pantry at Calvary is located in a barn in the church's parking lot. Volunteers spent countless days bearing the elements with no heat, air conditioning or insulation in the pantry until Food Lion stepped in to help them make the much needed updates.
"We are excited about all the work that has been done, but I'm mostly excited about getting heat and air conditioning because it will allow us to work more efficiently," said Corellet Smith.
Corellet helped to establish the church food pantry and runs it with the help of her sister, cousin and several other dedicated volunteers. It is truly a family affair. Corellet was pleased to have this project completed in sight of the pantry's upcoming 15th anniversary. The church can now celebrate this milestone with a brand new pantry that is now outfitted with new appliances, flooring, shelving and a fresh coat of paint.
This week, Ahoskie store associates came out to see the progress of the pantry and put the final touches on the project. No one met for the first time. It felt like a gathering of family and friends' coming together for a cause everyone is so deeply passionate about.
"We are happy to support the Calvary pantry as much as we can," said Chris Godfrey, Ahoskie Food Lion Store Manager. "They are about feeding the hungry and that's something we all have in common."
Nov. 2 – Tarboro, N.C.
"A growing family of support"
For the past year, North Edgecombe High School staff has had talks with Food Lion Feeds food bank partner, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle about how they can help meet the needs of food insecure students in their school. About 80 percent of teens at the high school in Tarboro, N.C. receive free and reduced lunch, which demonstrates the struggles families in the community face with hunger and poverty.
"Food insecurity among teenagers is often overlooked since much of the resources are focused on younger children," said Julie Cox, FRD Programs Manger, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.
Armed with this knowledge, Julie was eager to nominate the high school for the 2017 Food Lion Feeds' The Great Pantry Makeover. With the resources and support of local Food Lion associates, the school would now be able to establish a new food pantry on campus for students to have easy access to nutritious food.
On the day of the makeover, Food Lion associates came out to assemble shelves, paint and stock the pantry with a variety of fresh and shelf stable foods. They were greeted by excited school staff and Principal Donnell Cannon shared the impact the new pantry would have at the school.
"This is going to be transformative for our students, school and community, as there are many needs," said Cannon. "We serve many communities that are anchored in poverty. Kids are showing up in our classrooms hungry, and some of them don't have access to quality food on the weekends."
With such a need, Trish Bednarz, Food Lion Director of Operations for the area, was sure to let school staff know they were now part of the Food Lion family and ensured them of Food Lion's support for the pantry in the long run.
"We truly are a family at Food Lion, and what makes our family special are the new families that we gain," said Bednarz. "There is nothing more special to us then to be able to give back and make life easier for you so that you can support those in need."
In return, school social worker Stephanie Gray shared her gratitude with the group.
"I'm excited and very overwhelmed by the support Food Lion has showed us today," Gray shared. "I feel like this is going to be a great program for our students and our community. It will impact a lot of people."
Nov. 3 – Farmville, N.C.
"Strength in support"
Pastor Sandra Williams and her husband Wilbert have been a blessing to the town of Farmville, N.C. Upon meeting them, their passion for feeding the hungry and touching the lives of people in their community is clearly evident.
In 2016, after learning about the need to serve the food insecure in Farmville, Sandra opened a food pantry out of the couple's church, Word of Truth Anointed Ministries. At the time, the William's were no strangers to community outreach, but the establishment of a new food pantry was much more of an undertaking. The pantry started with two volunteers and served 38 people on their very first day, and just last month the pantry served 488 people!
This growth over such a short period of time stretched the pantry's resources to capacity. Thankfully, their friends at the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina thought to nominate them for Food Lion's 2017 The Great Pantry Makeover for the opportunity to expand their services.
"We are so thankful, and so appreciative," said Pastor Sandra. "We would have never thought you all would be here; we were so surprised when we found out we had been chosen. What a blessing."
Pastor Sandra and her volunteers welcomed Food Lion associates to their pantry with a warm breakfast to get them started on the day's projects. Associates were eager to paint, build shelves and restock the pantry for distribution to customers the next day. Through the makeover, the pantry was also able to purchase new appliances and equipment to compliment the pantry's expansion.
Throughout the day, customers of the pantry stopped in to see the new updates and show their support of the pantry. Customer Paulette Pridgen has been receiving food from the pantry for two months now.
"I've been out of work and I'm kind of having a hard time," explained Pridgen. "A friend introduced me to the pantry, and they support me with the food donations. I'm able to come and pick out what I want, and I like that."
Food Lion is thankful for the assistance The Shepherd's Food Pantry provides to Paulette and so many others in the Farmville community.
In addition to pantry makeover events, Food Lion Feeds also made a 29,000-meal food donation to the food bank at Truth and Fellowship Global Outreach Ministry in Florence, S.C. on October 25.
Courtney James: Courtney.firstname.lastname@example.org; 704-310-3768