There may not be a Food Lion in Elizabethton, Tenn., but Food Lion store managers from six surrounding cities didn't hesitate when asked to help give the nearby town's food pantry, Assistance and Resource Ministries (ARM), some much-needed support.
ARM, which was founded by local pastors 24 years ago, was nominated by Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee as part of Food Lion's "The Great Pantry Makeover," a month-long service project in support of Feeding America's Hunger Action Month.
"We're incredibly proud to work with a partner like Food Lion who does tremendous work to help end hunger in their communities," said Rhonda Chafin, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee. "The Great Pantry Makeover is a great way to support Hunger Action Month, and ARM's renovation was the biggest event we held in our region to support the initiative."
The six store managers, as well as local Talent Development Specialist Doug Hulshult, hit the ground running on this morning, ready to transform the local pantry.
"I may not live here, but I grew up here, and I'm proud to give back to this community," Hulshult noted. "I love that it's 'Hunger Action Month', not 'Hunger Awareness Month. We need awareness, but what we need more is to take action to end hunger in our communities."
The group got to work immediately, nearly finishing the first coat of paint within the hour.
And, paint wasn't the only thing that would transform the pantry. Prior to today's event, with the funds donated from Food Lion from the Great Pantry Makeover nomination, ARM was able to purchase two new refrigerators, new chairs, flooring and shelving. Food Lion also donated 1,500 pounds of food to stock the shelves of the pantry to top things off.
"It's hard to explain how badly we needed the help here," said Nikki Jones, director of ARM. "The carpet had never been replaced. If you look at the "before" pictures, you wouldn't believe this is the same place. We're so grateful to Food Lion."
Once the makeover was complete, the space was like new. Jones had a glimpse of what clients' reactions would be when one stopped in, not realizing the pantry was closed for renovation work.
"Oh my goodness," the shocked client exclaimed. "It looks amazing in there!"
We have a feeling Jones will experience many more reactions like this when ARM reopens next week.
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