Summer can be a difficult season for children and families affected by food insecurity. As children leave school for the summer, many lose the free meals they would normally receive at school, putting them and their families at risk. On May 24, Food Lion associates across North Carolina came together to help food banks prepare for rising summer food demands. Partnering with regional food banks in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Charlotte, approximately 500 volunteers sorted bulk food to be given out to families in need.
“Each event had its own unique flair, but all three had one thing in common: enthusiastic Food Lion employees ready to step up and make a difference,” the company says.
“Combined, we will donate over 600,000 meals today, which is a big deal and matters to the communities that we serve,” said Scott Libbey, VP of Food Lion’s central division, at the Charlotte event.
Fayetteville associates kick off first Sort-A-Rama with a bang
Roseboro, North Carolina, Food Lion associate Stephanie Douglas says she heard about how fun and impactful Food Lion Feeds events were, so when the opportunity came to volunteer for Fayetteville’s first Sort-A-Rama event, she jumped at the opportunity.
“Other associates were saying how fun it was, and I didn’t want to come by myself so I just got a small group together and we are here today,” said Douglas who is an evening manager at Store #948. “It warms my heart that we are helping children.”
More than 50 Food Lion associates joined employees from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Union Home Mortgage to pack more than 56,500 meals that will be given to children this summer.
“This is the first time that we will have a huge jump on packing summer meals for kids,” said Ron Pringle, director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast North Carolina. “It’s hard for us to catch up and find a group this large to help us to pack meals, so we are grateful.”
Associates packed clear plastic bags of snacks for breakfast, lunch and dinner that are easily accessible for children to consume this summer. They included items like cereal bars, boxed juice, tuna and fruit cups.
Kris Thornton, director for the Fayetteville region, said the event was good for a couple of reasons.
“It’s a good morale booster for the associates,” Thornton said. “It was not hard for us to get 50 associates. Any time we need associates for Food Lion Feeds’ events, folks jump at the opportunity.”
Thornton also said it was a great opportunity for associates to work outside their store and see how they directly can impact fighting hunger locally. After Thursday’s event, the food will be ready to be distributed to 260 agencies in seven counties served by the food bank.
“This just feels great,” said Associate Olivia Ward. “I like helping others in need.”
Charlotte steps up
Sorting through 176,000 pounds of rice and beans is no easy task, but more than 200 Food Lion employees from the company’s central divisions were up to it, packaging almost 100,000 meals.
“In the 19 counties we serve, over half of the children attending school receive free-reduced lunch. This is indicative of how great the need is during the summer and how we need help to meet this need,” said Kay Carter, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. “We could not run the food bank without Food Lion feeds…They donate so much product, and serve as one of our largest food donors, [as well as] a tremendous financial donor.”
Even Leo the lion was present at the event as employees from Food Lion and other companies filed into the Charlotte Convention Center the morning of the event. Many, such as Food Lion store 1680 employee Wanda Barnett, have been serving at the event for years and look forward to it.
“It just feels good to get with other members of your company and support causes like this,” said Barnett.
A sort-a big deal in Raleigh
One thousand people working together can do a lot of good, so when more than 1,000 people—225 of them Food Lion associates—joined the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in Raleigh, it was clear that something amazing was going to take place, says Food Lion.
In just a few short hours, the group sorted through 126,000 pounds of rice, packing 40,000 breakfasts and 50,000 lunches.
Mike Hall, Food Lion director of operations in the Henderson region north of Raleigh, said, “At Food Lion, we’re passionate about helping to end hunger, and [we] just love partnering with the food bank year round, and our fellow corporate partners, to help end hunger in the communities we are proud to serve each and every day. I’m so proud of each of our Food Lion volunteers volunteering here today with me to make sure no one goes hungry by sorting meals and giving back to a cause that we’re all so passionate about.”