By Natalie Miller
To celebrate the opening of their new store in the former Ashland Hanover Shopping Center Martin’s location, Food Lion donated the equivalent of 6,000 meals to the Hanover Food Outreach Pantry.
Ashland’s Food Lion closed its doors at the Ashland Junction Shopping Center and officially opened their new location Wednesday, Aug. 16. Before the ribbon cutting and official opening Food Lion store managers and FeedMore representatives gathered at the Hanover Food Outreach Pantry’s distribution area at The Supply Room Co.to restock the pantry’s shelves.
The Hanover Outreach Food Pantry serves hundreds of people each year. In 2016, the pantry served 479 people and distributed 8,462.12 pounds of groceries.
Former Ashland Food Lion store manager and current manager for the Mechanicsville Food Lion Ed Whitaker said Food Lion has been working with local non-profit organizations since he started with the company.
“I think it’s just awesome to see people who need help and need food be able to get what they need,” Whitaker said.
Whitaker was one of the managers helping restock the pantry early Monday morning.
“It’s not always the people you think, either [who use the pantry]. It’s the people that live around you,” Whitaker continued.
FeedMore, Central Virginia’s core hunger-relief organization, coordinates food deliveries to foodbanks in 34 Virginia counties and cities. The Hanover Food Outreach Pantry was restocked with fresh produce and Food Lion branded non-perishable items, including dry goods as well as toilet paper and some household products.
FeedMore corporate relations manager Kevin Rudnick said the organization brings food directly from the source to the food bank.
“Food Lion is very generous to us and through our partnership we’re able to get food into local food pantries like this one,” Rudnick said.
Rudnick said that often when Food Lion has a store opening or reopening, the grocery donates food or labor to local pantries. The company may give food pantries a makeover, or provide new refrigeration.
“To see [local pantries] get a direct donation or to see them get a new refrigerator or paint job is always really special,” Rudnick said.
According to the pantry’s director Jenn Inge, many of the food pantry’s clients are also patients of the Saint James the Less free clinic. The pantry also receives referrals from FeedMore, the Department of Social Services and Aunt Bertha calls, Inge said.
“I have regular monthly volunteers that serve the pantry and I am so thankful for their care, concern and relationships with our pantry clients,” Inge said.
The food pantry also has a weekly backpack program that delivers to Liberty Middle School, Beaverdam Elementary, Henry Clay Elementary, Elmont Elementary and Gandy Elementary School. The backpacks contain food for six meals, to be breakfast, lunch and dinner for the weekend for the student.
Each backpack is intended to weigh under 10 pounds and cost less than $7, Inge said. The program averages 60 backpacks a week, and the food is provided through FeedMore and donations.