Food Donor visits – it’s tough out there! Marcus recently met with Mark McGilvery, Food Resources Manager of the Lowcountry Food Bank, and visited stores in Beaufort and Bluffton. As part of Feeding America, the Lowcountry Food Bank manages regional relationships with national food donors (Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Food Lion, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and others) across the 10 counties of the South Carolina Lowcountry – including Beaufort, Jasper, and Hampton.
The amount of food Second Helpings rescues from our food donors is best in class in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
During our visits, they found that the stores are critically under-staffed, and turnover is high. One of the stores we visited has 95 vacancies, two don’t have produce managers, and two others share a store manager. All are using fill-in workers from other departments and are hiring as many new employees as they can. A surprising number of department managers were unfamiliar with our program, or lacked the staff to pull donations. All have pledged to address this.
The store employees appreciated the visits and the opportunity to discuss their business. They asked for our volunteers’ understanding, patience and courtesy as they navigate through this unprecedented labor shortage. One asked us to be sure our volunteers stay safely out of the path of forklifts around the receiving area.
Many of the store workers were excited to know that the food they collected was going to local people who need it, and knew people who had been to pantries that we serve. Some of the managers and leads asked about what happens when the food leaves the stores, and who benefits from it. They said knowing where the food goes would interest their employees and improve their morale. We’ll be working on giving them this perspective.