Food Lion’s ‘Great Pantry Makeover’ Gives a Lift to Two MANNA Partners

For the last three years, Food Lion, a regional grocery chain based out of Salisbury, North Carolina, has been making strides to help hundreds of food relief organizations to improve how they are serving their local communities through their campaign, The Great Pantry Makeover. Through this initiative, Food Lion gives support to these organizations by providing funds and muscle for capital improvement projects, purchasing materials, and of course, donating large amounts of food to fully stock the pantries shelves.

This year marks Food Lion’s 60th anniversary, and in celebration of this milestone, Food Lion doubled the number of pantries they normally select for the Great Pantry Makeover, and two pantries in MANNA’s partner agency network reaped the benefits.

The Community Kitchen (Canton, NC)

The Community Kitchen, a Canton-based pantry and daily meal provider, received a kitchen makeover and a large food donation to pack the shelves. But this makeover is more than just a facelift. Thanks to Food Lion’s investment, The Community Kitchen will be able to serve more people during their daily 5:00 PM community meal, which is a staple of food support for many low-income families in the community.

“This pantry makeover is going to help our volunteer cook teams have better access to all the food available and more of a variety to choose from when they cook,” says Allison Jennings, Operational Director for The Community Kitchen. “It will also reduce kitchen prep time before the meal, giving our volunteers more time with the people we serve.”

The site makeover also included a donation of additional tables and chairs, allowing The Community Kitchen to physically seat and serve more local families every day.

In addition to the on-site pantry makeover, Food Lion made a large food donation consisting of both shelf-stable and perishable foods to help stock the pantry’s shelves in anticipation of the winter months. The fresh food donation is particularly needed, as fresh food is expensive to purchase, in high demand, and often inaccessible for residents struggling to make ends meet.

“Without a large stocked pantry we would not be able to do all the things that we do,” says Jennings, which includes serving the daily meal, as well as the pantry’s regular twice a month food distribution.

The Community Kitchen is a key partner in the MANNA FoodBank food distribution network, serving Haywood County residents needing food assistance. In Haywood County alone, 1 in 7 people, and 1 in 4 children, don’t have access to three square meals a day. In 2016, MANNA distributed over one million pounds of food to Haywood County-based partners like The Community Kitchen to help support this increased need.

“The Community Kitchen sees the dire need for food in the Canton area every day because of the daily meal they provide,” says Bobbie Phillips, Food Sourcing Coordinator for MANNA FoodBank. “Our local grocers are part of a huge support system for partners like The Community Kitchen, who are helping lend a hand up to local families every day of the year.”

The Sharing House (Brevard, NC)

Sharing House, a Brevard-based pantry and crisis assistance center, received a major makeover and a large food donation to pack the shelves, courtesy of Food Lion’s 60th anniversary and their ‘Great Pantry Makeover’ campaign, now in its third year. Thanks to Food Lion’s investment, Sharing House has been able to convert to a “client choice”-style pantry model, which is more like shopping in a grocery store than picking up a designated box with pre-selected food. This includes a produce section modeled after Food Lion’s produce section, shopping carts donated by the local store, mini aisles, and more.

“The ‘Great Pantry Makeover’ is such a gift to our community and to the mission of Sharing House,” says Shelly Webb, Executive Director for Sharing House. “We now have the ability to offer neighbors who live in poverty the power to choose their own food which simply honors human dignity.”

In addition to the on-site pantry makeover, Food Lion made a large food donation consisting of both shelf-stable and perishable foods to help stock the pantry’s shelves in anticipation of the winter months.

“For someone who lives in poverty, choices in life seem far and few between,” says Pam Schou, Sharing House Pantry Manager. “Our new space will encourage better selections of nutrition with fresh produce, gluten free options, low-sodium and cooking demonstrations.”

Sharing House is a key partner in the MANNA FoodBank food distribution network, serving Transylvania County residents needing food assistance. In 2016, Sharing House distributed close to 320,000 pounds of food to Transylvania County residents. In Transylvania County alone, 1 in 8 people, and 1 in 4 children, don’t have access to three square meals a day.

“Sharing House works hard to lift up the residents that are experiencing a tough time, whether they are facing a medical diagnosis, weathering a period of unemployment, or dealing with the unexpected loss of an income-earner in the family,” says Bobbie Phillips, Food Sourcing Coordinator for MANNA FoodBank. “Our local grocers are a huge support system for places like Sharing House, who are helping lend a hand up to local families.”

“Food Lion is helping secure the foundation of our communities through campaigns like ‘Great Pantry Makeover’ and so much more,” says Phillips.