Leading with a goal of donating 500 million meals by the end of 2020, Food Lion set out to reinvent its philanthropic giving to feeding people in need. At Food Lion, we believe no one should have to choose between dinner and rent. Through Food Lion Feeds, we're helping to end hunger by eliminating the choices people have to make when they are facing hunger.
Meal by meal, associate by associate and volunteer hour by volunteer hour, we're filling plates and make the line shorter at our feeding agencies. In the first year and a half of the program, Food Lion Feeds donated more than 155 million meals to our Feeding America member food banks and agencies. To accomplish the goal, Food Lion is engaging customers, associates and other community organizations with the same goal in mind – help fight hunger in our local communities.
As the official hunger-relief partner for the local NBA team, Charlotte Hornets, Food Lion Feeds took to the court to raise meals for child hunger awareness. With more than 1 in 4 children under 18 years of age in North Carolina who are food insecure, this is a key area of focus for our company as we know children can't learn when they are hungry and to help break the cycle of hunger, we need to ensure our children are healthy and nourished so they can excel in school. During the month of March, we leveraged our partnership and asked patrons to bring canned goods or make a financial contribution to Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina when attending basketball games, all with the focus of childhood hunger in mind. More than one million meals were raised in the first year of the partnership with the Hornets through an in-arena food drive, holiday giving among other events.
As a redesign to Food Lion's Reusable Bag, Food Lion Feeds held its first Roar Against Hunger art contest for children ages 5-14. Kids were asked to draw what hunger meant to them. In June, each winner hosted a signing event at their local Food Lion store. Customers at these stores met the young artist behind the bag design and had their bag autographed. More than two million meals were donated through this campaign.
To enhance the Food Lion Feeds volunteer service project, in September, Food Lion engaged its associates in its first year of The Great Pantry Makeover. Food Lion remodeled and refurbished 38 pantries in 30 days, engaging associates in volunteer activities to support local food banks and feeding agencies. During 30 days, associates organized pantries, sorted food, helped with distributions to families in need, painted, cleaned and more. More than 1.7 million meals were provided and more than 1,400 serviced hours helped to make this project a huge success. In 2014, this service project was held for one week.
In October, Food Lion remodeled its stores in the grocer's largest retail market – Raleigh, N.C. With more than 160 participating stores, Food Lion Feeds donated a mobile pantry to the local food bank. Along with the mobile pantry, we donated an additional 500,000 meals to various agencies as well as other product donations.
The Food Lion Feeds brand touched the lives of our customers and community partners, while internally, associates passionately embraced the platform. Many associates took to social media to show their support, proudly posted photos during campaigns and encouraged others to help relieve hunger in their communities. We look forward to continuing to help end hunger in our communities and raise awareness one associate and customer at a time.
*Tara Robertson is the manager of regional marketing at Food Lion.