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Food Lion partners with South Hall food pantry
Food Lion’s Lisa France sweeps the porch Tuesday morning at the South Hall Community Food Pantry as part of Food Lion's $4,500 grant from its national program Great Pantry Makeover. A group of Food Lion employees from the Dawsonville store joined France to volunteer and to assist with some of the repairs needed.

Employees from a Dawsonville grocery store spent their Tuesday morning volunteering in South Hall.

The South Hall Community Food Pantry received a $4,500 grant from Food Lion’s Great Pantry Makeover project. Employees from the Food Lion at 59 Main St. in Dawsonville volunteered their time Tuesday to stock the pantry and help with some of the projects made possible by the grant.

Michael Robertson, chairman of the South Hall Community Pantry board, said Food Lion announced the grant in the spring through its Food Lion Feeds program.

Food Lion Feeds’ Great Pantry Makeover provides 30 food pantries with a remodel and product donations.

“You had to describe a project you’re working on, and we’re working on a few small capital projects,” Robertson said. “We have air conditioning and freezers, but if they go out, it’ll hurt our capacity. So some of the funds will be used for backup freezer and air conditioning.”

Robertson said they also wanted to permanently extend a shelving unit in the storage room, but realized it would obstruct the flow of the space. Instead, they’ll create a temporary shelf that will likely be on a hinge and can fold away when needed.

It’s these kind of customizable updates that were made possible through the grant, he said.

The “majority of the food” at the pantry comes from the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, but the pantry also gets donations from grocers such as Food Lion and Publix and some corporate donors.

Chaundra Luckett, public relations manager for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, said the two food banks worked together to help the pantry apply for the grant.

Matthew Brown, store manager for the Dawsonville Food Lion, said all the volunteers Tuesday donated their time and were not paid or compensated for it.

“We come in as a service to those that are feeding the hungry and donate food and do some of the things that might be needed here in the pantry,” he said. “Anything they need, we try to make it easier on them.”

Luckett said several volunteers drove as much as an hour to be there Tuesday morning.

“Today has just been amazing,” she said. “Some of the volunteers from the Dawsonville store have been putting things together and unloading all this food for people here in this community. September is Hunger Action Month, and really it’s a great way to raise awareness of hunger in our area.”

Hunger Action Month is a national campaign with Feeding America and food banks across the country to raise awareness about the issue of hunger.

Across the Southeast, Food Lion employees will volunteer 1,200 hours and stores will donate 1 million meals through the Food Lion Feeds program, Brown said.

He said the Food Lion Feeds program has a special push in September, but there are ways to donate year-round. For a grocery store that has the objective to make a profit, it still puts millions of dollars back in its communities, he said.

“It’s a really big deal for us,” he said. “We don’t want families to have to decide between paying rent, buying gas and having food. That becomes a tough decision, and we want to try and make that easier.”

Five nearby churches — Christ Lutheran, East Lanier Community, McEver Road United Methodist, Oakwood First United Methodist and St. Gabriel’s Episcopal — run the South Hall Community Food Pantry, which has operated for 10 years.

The pantry is comprised of two buildings: a storage area for both frozen and canned food and a distribution area.

In the distribution area, volunteers pack bags labeled with “S” or “L,” signifying small or large. The bags are the same size, but have varying amounts of food depending on the size of the family in need.

Robertson said the pantry keeps records so it can see how often people are coming. The pantry asks that people only come once a month and the pantry also asks for a referral, usually from a church or the Division of Family and Children Services.

“But we’re really not that particular,” he said. “We want to help those in need, and we’re not going to spend an inordinate amount of time checking people out.”

The pantry asks for ID or proof of residence in Hall County, and for Social Security cards for children to determine the size of the family. But again, Robertson said, the pantry won’t turn anyone away who forgets these items.

The food pantry is open 3-5 p.m. Mondays and 10 a.m. to noon Thursdays and Saturdays. Go to for more information.