Food Lion’s ‘incredibly passionate’ leaders support dedicating millions to Charlotte’s community initiatives

Community Conversation: Food Lion has invested more than $1 million in racial equality and social justice initiatives in the community.
Community Conversation: Food Lion has invested more than $1 million in racial equality and social justice initiatives in the community.
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 8:01 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 11:56 PM EST
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SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Food Lion has been around since 1957. The grocery store chain originated in Salisbury, North Carolina.

Meg Ham has been the president of Food Lion for seven years and says the grocery store has strong values and does its part to support the community.

“We’re not just in the neighborhoods,” Ham said. “We are the neighborhood and for a healthy community, that means a healthy environment for us to operate in. It is part of who we are and a core value of care that has been part of Food Lion since we started in 1957.”

Part of Food Lion’s mission is to feed those who are in need. Food Lion is committed to donating 1.5 billion meals by 2025. It has already given more than $10 million toward hunger initiatives.

“Our purpose at Food Lion is to nourish families,” Ham said. “And set them up for success in life. I am incredibly passionate about nourishing those around us and I firmly believe no one should have to choose between dinner and rent or gas and groceries and to be able to work in an organization that can provide healthy affordable options for many is incredibly important to me. And to be able to give back to those who are in a time of need is incredibly satisfying and fulfilling as well.”

Julius Gaines is the store manager at the Food Lion on Little Rock Road. He says his employer looks out for the community especially during the health crisis.

“A lot of businesses may do things for show,” Gaines said. “Food Lion - this is just who we are. People were hurting before the pandemic and Food Lion has always been heavily invested in the city and the towns that we serve as far as food banks and as far as food drives and food giveaways. We’ve always done that.”

Food Lion is serious about making a difference. Each year since 2003, Food Lion has invested more than $1 million in racial equality and social justice initiatives in the community. It has also pumped $50 million to M&F Bank. It is the second oldest minority bank in America.

“The branches of M&F Bank are right there in our neighborhoods of Food Lion,” Ham said. “And to be able to deposit money there and have the proceeds go to building economic surety in the neighbors - to be able to lend to people who want to build a business and build the economy that pays back inside our marketplaces as well. It’s a great way to contribute to society.”

We had a conversation with Food Lion as the nation celebrates the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The grocery store chain says it embraces King’s beliefs.

“We serve all,” Ham said. “We serve all walks of life that come into our stores and our job is to make every single one of those customers feel welcomed. And I think Dr. King would be proud of being able to have every single customer feel welcomed inside of our stores to do that we have to - be part of the community. And our associates play a big role in that. They live inside the community.”

Gaines has been with Food Lion for 18 years. He believes in the company and says going to work each day fulfills him.

“I just like people,” Gaines said. “Every day that’s my fuel - to be in a store - to see my regulars, my associates - their faces every day. It makes my day go by fast and it’s great. I’m just a people person by nature and I love what I do every day. You never know with the person in the building - you might be the reason that that customer chose that location. They can buy groceries anywhere. I like to say if you buy the groceries - the smiles are free.”

Food Lion and Atrium Health are partnering with WBTV for a one-hour MLK Jr. Holiday Celebration. It will air on Jan. 17 starting at 7 p.m.

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