Grocery stores have long partnered with organizations on the front lines of fighting hunger. Now, with winter approaching and the coronavirus pandemic heightening food insecurity, some grocers are stepping up their giving to help meet the increasing need.
Through its Food Lion Feeds program, the North Carolina-based Food Lion grocery chain has donated more than 500 million meals to individuals and families since 2014. The company’s efforts assist 30 Feeding America partner food banks throughout the organization’s Southeast and Mid-Atlantic service area, including MANNA FoodBank, which serves agencies in 16 Western North Carolina counties.
In response to growing need, Food Lion recently committed additional resources to aid WNC food pantries, according to Kelly Powell, the company’s external communications specialist. In October, employees gathered products from store warehouses to restock pantries in Cullowhee, Cherokee, Nebo and Asheville.
In November, Food Lion will donate much-needed shelving to MANNA for its warehouse facilities and $20,000 in gift cards for the MANNA Packs for Kids program, which provides packs of food to over 5,000 WNC schoolchildren every Friday throughout the school year.
MANNA FoodBank has also enjoyed a 30-year partnership with Ingles Markets, headquartered in Asheville. “Ingles has been our No. 1 food donor all of those years and is a really significant partner to us in the work of ending hunger in WNC,” says MANNA CEO Hannah Randall. “We operate a reclaim center for them where we get over 3 million pounds of food a year. They donate bread and bakery items to us and provide funds.”
The annual Ingles Giving Tree, which for 27 years kicked off the holiday season with the construction of a giant tree of food in the Asheville Mall atrium, and a simultaneous food drive for MANNA are being reconceived for 2020 due to COVID-19. This year, Ingles will provide a financial contribution of $25,000, and between Nov. 23 and Jan. 3, Ingles shoppers in all WNC stores can buy laminated ornaments for $5 or $10 to represent the donation of 20 or 40 meals, respectively.
The ornaments will be hung throughout the holiday season on a live tree outdoors at Asheville Outlets mall. And as she does every year, Laura Ingle will light the tree the Monday evening before Thanksgiving, Nov. 23.
For details, visit mannafoodbank.org.