GLASGOW – They thought it might take two to three hours, but with all the help they had, it only took about 90 minutes Friday to unload and transfer 4,729 pounds of food products from a truck into a local pantry.

Food Lion employees teamed up with Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland, a regional food bank in Elizabethtown, and volunteers from Glasgow First Church of the Nazarene to stock the church’s pantry that had gotten pretty bare, said Benny Smith, media and community relations manager for the Salisbury, N.C.-based grocery chain, in an interview with the Daily Times.

Managers at the Elizabethtown facility nominated a few possible pantries from which Food Lion would choose one for its “Great Pantry Makeover” and Hunger Action Month, he said. All of the pantries had to be Feeding America-sanctioned and have nonprofit organization status, Smith said.

The nomination form said the church provides food assistance to about 40 local households. The form also said 16.4 percent of the county’s population is considered “food insecure,” Smith said.

Smith quoted Gary Miles, executive director of the Kentucky’s Heartland, who helped with Friday’s project as saying, “This is an extremely important donation, especially from a company that supports our mission. The need is great in this area.”

Smith said Food Lion has “food rescue programs” in all its stores, pulling products that are overstocked but still have a good shelf life left. It sends the products to 33 food banks, and it chose one pantry in each bank’s service area.

Some pantries got freezers or office equipment rather than food, but with almost $3,000 worth of products ranging from canned goods to grits and tuna to tomato sauce going into an almost-empty pantry at the church, Smith said, the Glasgow project was the largest in the region.

“We gave 33,000 meals today,” he said.

“This is just a godsend,” said Esther Ballard, a member of Glasgow First Church of the Nazarene, via a press release from Smith. “We were running real low on food, and this is just a miracle.”

Smith said the church pantry was down to about 20 cans of food and 10 jars of peanut butter before the truck showed up with more than 100 cases of products. The church had been notified around mid-August they would be receiving the donation, he said.

The pantry was so completely full with neatly arranged cases of food products that some of the food had to go in an overflow room, he said.

“As a store manager and associate, today’s event just opens our eyes to the need here in Glasgow,” said Toby Pentecost, manager of the local store, via Smith’s press release. “It’s good for us to have a chance to give back, because a lot of people who will receive this I see in my store every day.”

Managers from other stores in the region, some from Tennessee, joined the Glasgow crew for Friday’s event.

“This is the most food we  have ever received at one time,” pantry volunteer Lorie Hagan was quoted by Smith as saying. “This is truly a blessing.”

She told the Daily Times that she was amazed as she watched everyone working together and saw how much they got done so quickly.

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