The team was back on the road again this week following a week "off" to re-launch the greater Richmond, Va., market, which just completed a $110 million remodel of 71 area Food Lion stores! While we were there, we also made a 1 million meal commitment to FeedMore Food Bank to assist those in need. Read about the exciting ribbon cutting events, giveaways and community donations here!
This week, as we continued to "makeover" many partner food pantries across Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina as part of our third annual The Great Pantry Makeover (TGPM) associate volunteer campaign, we continue to be humbled by the incredible impact made on our communities, and our neighbors in need.
From fresh coats of paint to refrigerator and freezer donations increasing pantries' fresh capacity, to landscaping and shelf installations to fully stocking the pantries with fresh and non-perishable products, local Food Lion associates dedicated themselves to giving back through the TGPM events.
This year marks Food Lion Feeds' third annual "The Great Pantry Makeover" (TGPM) campaign, 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. 16 – Salisbury, Md.
"In the nick of time"
Delmarva Evangelistic Food Director Tina Kovach couldn't hold back the tears on Monday.
Numerous times, she would begin talking only to have to pause. These tears, however, weren't those of pain or sadness, but of joy.
"We are just blessed," Kovach said inside the Salisbury, Md., food pantry.
The church was a recipient of Food Lion's The Great Pantry Makeover, which awarded them $5,000 to pay for new shelving, a fresh coat of paint, a cart, electrical supplies, a refrigerator and four new freezers, not to mention a pantry stocked full of food.
"When I walked in here last Tuesday, my heart just sunk because we lost one of our freezers and all the food that was inside," Kovach said. "Then two days later, Food Lion gave us the money to buy four freezers and today their employees are filling them up with more than twice the food."
Ten Food Lion retail associates and leaders, came together from the Delmarva/Salisbury/Ocean City, Md., region and spent more than four hours cleaning, painting and assembling refrigerator doors and shelves so the pantry could increase its capacity to offer fresher, nutritious items to local families.
"It would take me a week to do what they are doing in less than half a day," Kovach said.
Ocean City, Md., Store Manager Cheryl Collins described the experience as "a good day for the agency and for Food Lion."
"Today is just good for your soul," Collins said. "You work with customers every day and you don’t know what situation they are in. Some of our customers could be recipients of this pantry."
Collins is one of Food Lion's Divisional Store Managers of the Year and 2016 Top Women in Grocery recipients.
"Just seeing her (Tina's) reaction when she saw the freezer full; it was heartwarming, she was crying."
Teresa See, Maryland Food Bank's Network Relations Manager of the Eastern Shore Branch, said she was grateful for the makeover because Delmarva Evangelistic Food Pantry is always helping the community.
"Anytime someone would call us needing food, I would send them here to this church," See said during an interview inside the pantry. "This church is in a central location here on Gordy Road. Everybody knows this church because they have always helped the community. I know that I can always count of Tina and can call her anytime to help give food to someone who is hungry."
Tina Kovach said most of the people they service are seniors.
"A lot of people are grandparents who are trying to support their grandchildren," she said. "They just don’t have enough sometimes for food once they pay all of their bills." "Thank you Food Lion."
Oct. 17. – Baltimore, Md.
"Food for the soul and stomach"
Baltimore leader Merrill Griffin may be unlike most pastors that you have come in contact with.
He has a strong background in public service working as officers with the Baltimore Police Department, the Maryland House of Corrections and the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women.
Now, however, he is helping some of the same people that he at once arrested.
In addition to serving as the leader of Soul Harvest Church, Griffin also heads up the church's pantry, which feeds 250 to 500 local families monthly right in the heart of the city of west Baltimore. So, he and his staff are providing food both for the soul and the stomach for anyone in the community who needs it.
"For 23 years I did what I had to do and now I am doing what I love to do," Griffin said during an interview inside the church on Tuesday.
Food Lion was there to help this week.
More than eight associate volunteers assembled shelves and painted a newly constructed room so that the pantry could expand its services to the community. Food Lion also provided funds to by two large freezers. Finally associates filled the freezers with Food Lion product.
Griffin said the pantry makeover was needed because the area where his church is located is considered a food desert and at one time was the focus of national news during the Baltimore riots a few years ago as the community protested police brutality incidents.
"Today is just awesome," said Griffin. "Just when we feel we are at a crossroads, God always sends us a signal that we are on the right track. Thank you, Food Lion."
Oct. 19. – Augusta, Ga.
"Stepping up to the plate"
Downtown Cooperative Church Ministries (DCCM) is not your average food pantry. Founded in 1978 with the simple purpose "to feed the hungry in the community" DCCM has continued to not only fulfill that mission but build upon it. As a coalition of 16 area churches for its backbone, DCCM operates in downtown Augusta and is one of the few pantries that are able to serve food insecure individuals five days a week, totaling nearly 1,600 families per month.
While DCCM maintains a strong operation, that doesn't mean they are not in need of help, and that's where Food Lion stepped in.
As part of Food Lion's third annual The Great Pantry Makeover, DCCM received new shelving, a fresh paint job to help the pantry feel more inviting and new refrigerator and freezer equipment that will enable them to store more fresh food. And that's not all. DCCM also received a substantial food donation which Food Lion volunteers were on hand to stock their shelves full with.
"When I found out we were getting the makeover, I hollered because I was so excited! This is going to help us serve more people and we are truly blessed" said Christy Cunningham, Director of DCCM.
After Food Lion volunteers assembled shelving and stocked the pantry, they had the opportunity to pack boxes full of Food Lion food for families of three or more to distribute that morning.
When Joe Johnson, DCCM board member going on 20 years, saw the swarm of Food Lion volunteers he couldn't believe his eyes.
"In our community, it's mandatory that someone step up to the plate and feed people. For Food Lion to come out and do this, it show us that you're not just about selling food but also helping to feed the hungry."
Oct. 19 – Jamestown, S.C.
"Still going strong"
Marva and Jerome Padgett live next door to a food pantry they opened 10 years ago in the building space next to them. They used to use the space for a bus charter company they owned, but after retirement, they saw they could put the space to use when they realized the food pantry at their church down the street needed a new location.
Since opening, they have seen their share of challenges. When Hurricane Matthew struck in 2016, it took the roof off the building and the pantry had to close.
When Lowcountry was then asked by Food Lion Feeds about a 12 Days of Giving opportunity that December, they immediately thought about Jehovah Holiness. Food Lion paid to replace the roof so they could begin feeding their 300 clients a month again, but the pantry still needed work. The windows leaked, the shelving was broken, the desk to register clients was falling apart and the desk chair was just not good for Marva's failing back.
In response to this impending need, Food Lion Feeds granted the pantry a winner of "The Great Pantry Makeover."
On the morning of Oct. 19, 2017, 13 Food Lion associate volunteers arrived with plans to build shelving, paint walls, put together a new desk and chair, plant flowers and stocked shelves. They accomplished everything on their list.
Marva was overwhelmed.
"My goodness, God is so good and we all could not do what we do for this community without Food Lion, and we did not even have to ask," Padgett exclaimed. "I talk about Food Lion and their love of community at my church so often that they have starting asking if I work for them!"
"This means so much to the entire community," a pantry volunteer added "The shelving will help clients see the food. This helps so many that need food in our area especially seniors. Thank you, Food Lion."
As associate volunteers left the makeover, Padgett sat in her new chair smiling while tearing up as she looked at the newly stocked shelves.
"Count your blessings," she called out to each volunteer as they left.
Oct. 20 – Statesville, N.C.
"Coming Together to Serve"
Food Lion associates from Winston-Salem to Statesville, N.C., converged on Iredell Christian Ministries (ICM) in Statesville today to cap another great week of Food Lion Feeds' The Great Pantry Makeover events.
The team of dedicated associate volunteers and their families repainted the pantry, deep-cleaned the carpets, donated seating and a commercial refrigerator and freezer and stocked the pantry with the equivalent of over 7,000 meals for needy families.
An agency of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest N.C., the food pantry at ICM serves on average around 850 families every month. In addition to helping to end hunger in the community, ICM also offers a variety of services to Iredell County residents such as financial assistance, counseling and referral services for individuals and families in need.
Joy Morrison, a retired educator and director of ICM, said, "We are so excited to have you all here today and thank you for your generosity."
Director of operations for the region, Kathryn Sowers was also moved by the event.
"As a ICM board member and Statesville resident, I'm incredibly proud to join with so many associates from my Food Lion family to help ICM increase their capacity to help more area families in need," Sowers said.
In addition to pantry makeover events, Food Lion Feeds also made four food donations totaling 112,939 meals to food banks including Believer's Fellowship (Spartanburg, S.C.), Assurance United Methodist Church (Huntersville, N.C.), Christian Outreach Center of Boone (Boone, N.C.) and Harvest of Hope Food Pantry (Americus, Ga.).