Reverend Michael Brown, or “Pastor Mike” as he is affectionately known, has fed thousands of his Lumberton, North Carolina, neighbors since Hurricane Florence devastated his community on Sept. 14, 2018.
“People here are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew,” Brown said. “We fed people then (two years ago), and we’re here for them now.”
Brown is the pastor at East Lumberton Baptist Church, which suffered significant flooding in 2016 from Hurricane Matthew and again last month from Hurricane Florence. With the support of Second Harvest Food Bank Southeast North Carolina and Operation Blessing International, Brown’s church provides a hot meal, groceries, cleaning supplies and toiletries to hurricane victims four days a week.
Food Lion added to their efforts recently with a contribution of additional resources and plenty of helping hands. In addition to donating $25,000 to the food bank, which serves Lumberton and the surrounding six counties, Food Lion donated 1,000 gift cards, and nearly 20 Food Lion associate volunteers prepared grocery bags of fresh meat and non-perishables, and helped distribute other disaster relief items to more than 1,000 families in line. The effort was done through Food Lion Feeds, Food Lion’s hunger relief initiative.
Leading the group was Meg Ham, president of Food Lion.
“This is our home,” Ham said. “Our associates live here, their children go to school here, they play sports here. And we feel the impact here just as our customers do. So, when we know that there is an immediate need for support, Food Lion is here to help put food on the table for families that have lost everything as a result of the storm.”
Throughout the day, Ham and the team of volunteers greeted families, distributing the items from Food Lion, as they proceeded through the drive-through donation site, in a line of cars that stretched for more than a mile.
Ron Pringle, Second Harvest Food Bank Southeast North Carolina executive director, whose organization has been on the front lines of delivering help to those in need, said, “We are so honored to call Food Lion our partner in hunger. When this disaster began, we did not have to call them. They called us to simply say, ‘we are here and how can we help?’ That is the response of someone who cares, an organization that truly lives the culture they speak.”
“I’m proud to be part of an organization that gives back to the communities we serve. My heart goes out to all the families that have faced such a devastating weather event,” said Jason Conoly, execution and implementation specialist for Food Lion.