One in 12 seniors faces hunger every day. To alleviate this hardship, many rely on the Meals on Wheels America, a program which collaborates with food banks and organizations across the country to deliver meals to homebound seniors.
Because Food Lion Feeds believes everyone should have access to healthy, affordable food whether they are able to leave their home or not, Food Lion partnered with Meals on Wheels for its 16th annual March for Meals campaign, a month-long celebration of Meals on Wheels designed to rally communities nationwide around the vulnerable seniors who rely on its vital safety net to remain healthier and independent in their own homes.
To take action in helping feed its homebound neighbors in need, the Food Lion Feeds team traveled across its footprint during the month of March, partnering with local feeding agencies and organizations to personally deliver warm meals, home-cooked meals and a kind smile.
All donations are part of Food Lion Feeds' mission to donate 500 million meals by 2020. Read some of the highlights of our March for Meals journey below, and be sure to keep up with the team by following us here on our Lion's Tale blog or on Twitter @FoodLionNews.
March 9 – Richmond, Va. At FeedMore Food Bank
Today was a good day to walk the streets of Richmond, Va.! For the third year, Food Lion-area managers joined a legion of volunteers and took to the streets to deliver meals to homebound seniors through the Meals on Wheels program at FeedMore Food Bank in Richmond, Virginia. Richmond is the first city to host Food Lion for the four volunteer events taking place throughout the month of March, as the company celebrates March for Meals to support local Meals on Wheels programs.
“The gold standard of support for us here at FeedMore is food, funds and time, and Food Lion helped us kick off our annual March for Meals celebration with a trifecta!” stated Tim McDermott, Chief Development Officer at FeedMore. "We continue to be impressed with, and inspired by, Food Lion’s dedication to our mission. They are a part of the fabric of our community and are committed to positively impacting the communities we serve."
The opportunity to join FeedMoore and its unique operation of providing more than 800 home-cooked meals to Richmond seniors is one we take great pride in as a company. FeedMore is the only food bank to operate its own Meals on Wheels program, having delivered nearly 7.8 meals to seniors since 1967.
A team of 7 Food Lion associates delivered meals from two of the 94 routes it takes to hand out the nearly 1,000 meals needed for that day. To round out the celebration, Food Lion Feeds also donated shelf-stable items for Food Bank emergency food boxes and made a cash donation of $1,500 for their Meals on Wheels program.
Today, more than one in eight people in the United States are over the age of 65 and one and six of them struggle with hunger. It is difficult to imagine seniors having to choose between dinner, paying rent or buying groceries. Caring for our seniors is important to Food Lion, and we are steadfast in our mission to end hunger so no one has to make that difficult choice.
"I think that in life it is very important to give back," said Torrell Dobson, Food Lion Store Manager. Someday we are all going to get older and hopefully someone will be willing to do the same for us. Food Lion can always count on me to support our community."
March 11 – Columbia, S.C. at Senior Resources, Inc.
Ronnell Joyner appreciates volunteers like Food Lion associates.
You see, the Columbia native recently went on dialysis and sometimes finding the proper nourishment can be difficult for him.
"Meals on Wheels helps me out a lot," Joyner said Friday. "I have to keep my protein up and I can depend on them to come just about the same time during each week."
10 Food Lion associates volunteered Friday as part of Senior Resources, Inc., Meals on Wheels event in Columbia, S.C. Senior Resources Inc., provides hot, nutritious meals to seniors at least once per day Mondays through Fridays.
On Friday, associates cut up fresh produce and later placed the items along with baked chicken and turnip greens in small black plastic trays, which were delivered to 236 seniors throughout the Midlands.
In addition to preparing the meals and delivering them to local senior residents on Friday, Food Lion associates presented a $1,500 check to Senior Resources Inc., staff so that they could continue to positively impact seniors in the community. Food Lion also donated $5,000 to the agency's March for Meals 5K event, which held March 10 in Columbia attracting about 300 runners.
"Food Lion volunteers are helping us today because due to a volunteer shortage, we sometimes have to use our own employees to run routes to deliver, but today is a good Friday because Food Lion is here," said Senior Resources In-Home and Community-Based Services Director.
Although Friday's event was meant to help seniors, it also impacted associates.
Lorri Ayer, Store Manager for Food Lion Store 2563 said she volunteered for the same event last year and couldn’t wait to do it again this year.
"We had people pray for us and they were just so thankful for what we were able to do," Ayer said. "I think we as a society sometimes live in our own bubble, so to see that there are people out here who are in need and depend on us helps us in so many ways."
Calvin Smith, Execution and Implementation Specialist for the Columbia market agreed.
"I just think we are blessed to work for a company that provides us with jobs so we can buy whatever foods we need, but that is not always to case for these seniors," Smith said. "It makes us feel good what we are doing today."
Then, it was time to deliver the meals.
In some cases, people were on the porch waiting, while in other instances they were inside patiently waiting on the hot meals. Whatever the case, Food Lion associates delivered more than just a hot delicious meal, they delivered a smile, love and human contact – which for some meant more than the food.
March 16 – Fayetteville, N.C., at Cumberland County Council on Older Adults
Today was Isaac's first time volunteering with Food Lion Feeds, and it probably won't be his last.
"The expression on their faces when we gave them the food made this day all worthwhile," shared Isaac.
Isaac was moved after a morning of delivering meals with fellow Food Lion managers from the Fayetteville area in support of Cumberland County Council on Older Adults Meals on Wheels program.
For the third year the Fayetteville, N.C., team gathered to take out meals from five Meals on Wheels routes throughout Cumberland County. Each route gave them an opportunity to connect with a senior that may have otherwise gone throughout their day without any social interaction or even food.
For this very reason, Cumberland County Council on Older Adults Meals on Wheels program is essential to helping homebound seniors remain independent and in their homes. Food Lion's support of the Council has been consistent and varied over the years providing volunteer, financial and product donations. Today, in addition to volunteering, Food Lion Feeds also donated 400 bags of fresh fruit and made a cash donation of $1,500 to the organization.
Ken Dye is the Senior Nutrition Program Director at the Council. His passion for nurturing and caring for seniors in his community is evident.
"We're so grateful to Food Lion for their support of our program, because I believe no senior should ever go hungry and have to choose between buying their medicine or purchasing food," said Dye. "Food insecurity is a big issue among our seniors and thanks to Food Lion they've helped alleviate this problem in so many ways."
The addition of the fresh fruit for today's deliveries was a pleasant yet unexpected surprise for the seniors. There were many expressions of thanks and heartfelt gratitude among all that shared in this experience.
Surely, what we delivered today was far beyond the contents of a plate.
March 29 – Charlottesville, Va., at Meals on Wheels of Charlottesville/Albemarle
Meals on Wheels is more than just delivering nutritious meals to people in need. It serves as a way for volunteers to interact with the clients and check on their well-being. "Often times the meal delivery is the only human interaction our clients will have for the day, so the volunteers are vitally important to our organization" said Leigh Tripp, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels of Charlottesville/Albemarle.
Today those volunteers included over 20 Food Lion associates who came out in full force ready to deliver meals to homebound seniors. Many of the associates were repeat volunteers who couldn't wait to get started, while others were volunteering for the first time.
"I volunteered last year for this event and really enjoy having the opportunity to volunteer again" said Mike Bence, Food Lion Store Manager. "It's great to be out in the community and give back."
Scott, another Food Lion Store Manager, was just as eager to be volunteering today. "I didn't get a chance to do this last year so I'm really glad I get to help today" he said.
In addition to providing volunteers for today's meal delivery, Food Lion Feeds also donated close to 500 pounds of fresh fruit and $1,500 to Meals on Wheels of Charlottesville/Albemarle to help continue their operation. According to Tripp, the fruit was such a blessing for the senior clients last year and the monetary donation will help feed one person for a full year.
Approximately 275 clients are served by Meals on Wheels of Charlottesville/Albemarle and because the organization does not receive any state or federal funding, they rely on the generosity of individual and business donations to help support their operations.
"We truly appreciate the support we get from Food Lion. I love what the back of your t-shirts say – that people should not have to choose between buying food and paying rent. To see a company that has the same beliefs and values as we do really means a lot" Tripp said.