The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is responsible for much of the food we distribute. Their motto is  “Fighting hunger in 34 counties … so no one goes hungry.” I was required  to attend a 5 hour training session this month in order to receive our certifications for the year :  Safe Food Handling Course, The Annual TEFAP & Civil Rights Training, and the Annual Retail Donation Training.  It was a very informative day; I truly was not aware of the scope of their involvement.   Today’s meeting included participants from New Hanover and Pender County, but our Wilmington branch also services Brunswick and Pender.

One of the many programs is the Retail Donation Program.  There are 19 retailers currently partnering  with our Food Bank and the list is growing as more businesses move to the area.  Last year, these 19 retail partners, with a total of 400 retail locations, donated close to 18 million pounds of food and non-food items to 250 agencies.  This includes 3 million for agencies  affiliated with the Wilmington branch.

The Food Bank manages the relationships between the donors and the partner agency. Many years ago, we were assigned to the Food Lion in Masonboro Commons at  6400 Carolina Beach Rd and we’ve kept a long running relationship with them (thanks to Sr. Isaac). .  We have 15 teams of volunteers that pick up our donations.  Each person/team is assigned one day per month –  Tuesday, Saturday or Sunday.  They take coolers and ice packs from the Center and travel to the store to pick up whatever is available that day.  We receive  a wide range of products –  meat, dairy,  bakery, dry foods,  produce and miscellaneous items, such as paper products, holiday decorations, toys, etc..  The items may be overstock, or things approaching the sell by/use by date, though still usable.  (We have an interesting chart  called the “Food Keeper” that  specifies how long an item can still be safely used after the date on the package.)

Once the donations are brought to the Center, everything has to be weighed by category and reported.  My ‘statistics’ gals gather this info and report it back to the Food Bank each month.

My thanks goes out to everyone involved in this process; as you can see, it takes many hands.  And if you happen to  stop in to Food Lion at Masonboro Commons,  let them know how much their participation is appreciated.

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Special Need of the Week –  Remember next week is Share Sunday. Consider bringing in a non-perishable food item when you come to Mass.