As the Food Lion Feeds team returns from our travels, it is with bittersweet emotion that we recap our final The Great Pantry Makeover™ events. They say "time flies when you're having fun," however, for our team, we feel time flies when you're giving back to those who need it most.
After nearly four months and exactly 60 food pantries restored, refreshed and restocked across our 10-state footprint, the team celebrated Food Lion's 60th anniversary on Dec. 12 with full hearts and a better understanding of what it takes to serve as a neighbor to count on throughout our local communities. On that note, we would like to extend a warm "thank you" to our partner food banks which helped us identify these pantries in need, and who work every day to eliminate the hunger.
To recap for those of you just joining us, this year marked 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, as promised, from September through our 60th anniversary on Dec. 12, Food Lion associate volunteers donated more than 2.5 million meals and 2,000 volunteer hours in total as part of its largest associate volunteer initiative!
And, just because our 2017 The Great Pantry Makeover campaign has come to an end, the giving, and the feeding, has not and will not. The Food Lion Feeds team has exciting things in store for 2018, including the launch of a movement allowing anyone to get involved in helping feed our neighbors in need. You won't want to miss this!
So, keep up with the Food Lion Feeds team here on our Lion's Tale blog or see what we're up to in real time with daily updates on Twitter @FoodLionNews!
Happy holidays, and happy reading!
Dec. 5 – Savannah, Ga.
"Giving from the heart"
Candy Munn was on vacation Tuesday, but surprisingly the marathon enthusiast was not running in race or Christmas shopping with her free time.
Instead the Savannah, Ga., Food Lion store manager and resident was volunteering with eight other associates building and stocking new shelves at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.
"I am doing this because of the people who live in this community really need help," Munn said during an interview outside the church. "On one side of the community you may see nice houses and on the other side not too far there is a soup kitchen that feeds the homeless. In both areas there are people who are hungry."
The associates volunteered their time and services Tuesday as part of Food Lion's Third Annual "The Great Pantry Makeover". The act is one of the last waves of makeovers for the company, who started the initiative during September in celebration of Food Lion's upcoming 60th anniversary.
As part of this particular makeover, Food Lion donated a new refrigerator, freezer and 14 new shelves for the church's pantry.
"It just seems like it is Christmas," said church administrator and volunteer Judy Naylor-Johnson. "We are so grateful to Food Lion's gift."
The pantry normally distributes food to local families once a month. Last month, they helped 544 families, which equates to more than 1,000 individuals.
Jamie Kendall, Chief Operating Officer with Americas Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia said Tuesday's donation is very impactful for both the pantry and the community.
"The refrigerator and freezer now afford them the luxury of keeping fresh vegetables and frozen meats on site to help people during the monthly distribution day and also for people who knock on their doors almost daily looking for food," Kendall said.
The food bank is starting to experience more Savannah families with children and seniors who need food. Kendall agreed with Munn that there were some nicer homes and duplexes near the church, but noted that what most people don't realize is that most of them are senior citizens who have lived in those home for more than 40 years, and are now living on fixed incomes.
But, helping fellow residents isn’t something new for Munn and Tuesday was not her first time helping people.
Just last week, she and few of her associates at Store 2150 volunteered to help feed people at the local soup kitchen.
Director of Operations Billy Harcum described Munn as a "selfless" person always helping her fellow man.
"Candy has been in the community helping to feed people long before Food Lion started doing it," Harcum said. "She is very passionate about her community, and humble."
Dec. 12 – Leland, N.C.
"A 'Great Pantry Makeover' fit for a finale"
The Good Samaritan Pantry in Leland, N.C. marked the 60th pantry that received a makeover as part of Food Lion's "The Great Pantry Makeover" campaign. And, it could not have been a more perfect day for the last makeover to take place on Dec. 12, as Food Lion also celebrated its 60th anniversary on this day!
Established in 2011, The Good Samaritan Pantry aims to provide a helping hand to seniors and families in need in the Leland/Northwest communities of Brunswick County. Shirley Freeman, who manages the pantry, was also instrumental in getting it started.
"I saw how much of a need there was to provide food and clothing to those less fortunate, so once we received our 501(C)3 designation, I applied for a grant to get funding for the building in order to get it up and running," Freeman said. "From there, it's been a smooth operation that opens its doors three times a month and serves 75-80 families members each time."
As part of the makeover, Good Samaritan received new shelving and a new freezer to help increase their storage capacity.
"Our old freezer would break down sometimes which was a big problem because the food would thaw and we couldn't give it out" explained Freeman. "The new freezer is a huge blessing and will double what we can store. We love Food Lion!"
Volunteers from Food Lion put their skillsets to work during the makeover by painting the entire interior of the building, assembling shelving, installing the new freezer, installing a new door frame and reorganizing the pantry.
"Today has been a lot of hard work, but also fun" said Chris Harris of Food Lion Store 852 in Leland. "Look at what we did today; we accomplished so much!"
The pantry is scheduled to get a new building soon, which will help double their space and eventually allow them to go from client distribution to client-choice. Not only is that exciting for Freeman and the rest of the pantry volunteers, but Food Lion volunteers will be coming out to help them with the transition.
"It's great to be able to get involved to help out the community. These folks shop in our stores regularly so we're happy to be able to have the opportunity to give back," said Jimmy Jones, Food Lion Director of Operations for the area.
Throughout the day, volunteers and church members stopped by to see how the makeover was coming along and to simply thank Food Lion for their support. It was a heartwarming day and when Freeman looked around at how much more organized and clean the pantry was, she summed the day up perfectly by exclaiming "now this is a makeover!"
In addition to pantry makeover events, Food Lion Feeds also distributed more than 26,000 meals to Judeo Christian Outreach Center in Virginia Beach, Va., on Dec. 4.