MANCHESTER, NH –Shopping carts. New shelving. More ethnic foods. It’s the simple things that build community and to that end, Hannaford Supermarkets has donated $50,000 to make these meaningful changes to the non-profit Families in Transition food pantry on Lake Avenue.
“We’re happy to make this donation, John Fifield, Hannaford’s Director of Operations said. “It’s a long-standing partnership for us. Over the years we’ve donated $340,000 to the Families in Transition pantry. We donate food every single day. We’ve contributed 3.2 million pounds of food since 2008.”
“This partnership is so significant,” Stephanie Savard, FIT Chief External Affairs Officer said. “It’s a bridge so people can afford things like rent. When we opened this pantry, we did it in a hurry. Now it’s more like any other grocery store you’d go to.”
The FIT Food Pantry serves approximately 1,000 food-insecure individuals and families per month. One of the goals is to make the shopping experience more dignified. A limited survey of Manchester public elementary school teachers several years ago found all responding that food insecurity and inappropriate winter wear were regularly seen.
“The goal is to have families walk in and feel proud,” Savard continued. “The donation made it so we could upgrade the floors and have regular grocery store coolers to have refrigeration to display the food. People can access more healthy foods we have to offer. Pride is so important at the end of the day.
Hannaford works really hard to make sure we have produce, fish, eggs, things that we all want in our homes. This is an exciting opportunity for us.”
Approximately 20 members from both organizations were at FIT Wednesday afternoon to participate in an inaugural stocking of the new shelves and for FIT to receive a symbolic $50,000 check.
In addition to the $50,000 donation, local Hannaford stores account for 75 percent of produce, dairy and meat donations as part of their Fresh Rescue program designed to keep as much edible food as possible out of landfills.
“We know pantry volunteers by name,” Fifield said. “They’re part of our team.”
“The pantry is almost 100 percent volunteer run,” Savard said. “In that sense, it’s a low-cost service to make sure we can get food into the hands of the people who need it.”
“The people we serve have had a positive reaction, particularly those who have seen the steps in the transition,” Savard continued. “They can walk in and say ‘This is a welcoming place. It’s a place OK to walk into. There‘s been a lot of positive energy around it-having grocery carts as opposed to carrying a box everywhere. It’s respectable and they deserve that.”
“Community is so important,” Savard concluded. Homelessness and food insecurity have a lot of stigma. There’s a lot of community feeling around those two issues and I think where we can make a space around those two issues, people can walk in proudly, help their family budget and feel better about their community. This is helping to take care of their family, and I’ve said it a million times. They deserve that.”