Idyllic Sylva, N.C. lies in the Great Smoky Mountains along the western part of the state. Located in central Jackson County, Sylva is home to United Christian Ministries of Jackson County, which has served a variety of needs for county residents for over 25 years. Chief among the Ministry's efforts is to help feed food-insecure county residents.
Food Lion has been a strong partner of United Christian Ministries for much of the Ministry's existence. Nearly every day, the organization picks up dairy and bakery items from the Food Lion location at 73 Asheville Road in Sylva through Food Lion's retail recovery program. Through this program – which includes nearly every one of Food Lion's 1,100 store locations in our 10-state operating area – the company works with our 30 regional Food Bank partners to match a local food pantry, such as United Christian Ministries, to a nearby Food Lion location, for the pantry to pick up groceries that are safe for human consumption but which the grocer has removed from its shelves for sale due to packaging concerns, items passed their sell-by date, etc.
"Food Lion has helped us every week to provide food to over 900 individuals in need in this county," said Frank Leonard, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Ministry.
Today, the Ministry and Food Lion took their strong partnership even further, but today's effort was much, much different.
As one of this year's Food Lion Feeds Great Pantry Makeover recipients, United Christian Ministries hosted a group of area Food Lion leaders to install new shelving units to hold more food and make it easier for the Ministries volunteers and clients to pack their bags of food. Then, instead of the Ministry coming to our store to pick up items, the Food Lion associates stocked the Ministries new shelving and the pantry's stockroom with a food donation equal to over 11,000 meals. The donation consisted of everything from peanut butter, potatoes and vegetables, to soup, beef stew and pasta and sauce. Additionally, with the financial donation awarded as part of the Great Pantry Makeover, the Ministry plans on purchasing new air conditioning units to help keep its food fresher longer, meaning it can accept and distribute more food as the demand requires.
The Great Pantry Makeover is a month-long effort during September's Hunger Action Month where Food Lion leaders and associates makeover 30 food pantries in 30 days to help these pantries serve even more hungry families in need. The Ministry is a partner agency of Manna Food Bank, which nominated the Ministry for the effort.
"This is a wonderful thing to continue the support from Food Lion to provide food to those in need. It will enable us to hear our clients say 'I know what I'm having for dinner tonight,' which is a powerful thing. The variety of food is a tremendous benefit to supplement the food we typically have," said Mr. Leonard.
The partnership between Food Lion and the Ministry is a great example of how two organizations with the same goal can achieve so much more when working together.
To read more about the Great Pantry Makeover and all that the effort has accomplished during this month, visit our Lion's Tale Blog and follow us on Twitter @FoodLionNews.