John Cox bounds around Feeding Avery Family’s downtown Newland office shaking hands and making small talk. He is excited, and he has good reason to be. The nonprofit recently was the recipient of a large grant from Food Lion to the tune of $4,000, in addition to $4,000 in food donations.

Feeding Avery Families has run its office from Montezuma Street in Newland since 2006, and while the charity itself has been going strong, its premises needed some upgrades.

Food Lion’s Great Pantry Makeover Program, which aims to help renovate 38 local food banks in 30 days, stepped in to help.

With its donation, Cox and his volunteers were able to go a long way to make repairs and renovations to their building.

“We had electricians come in and redo a lot of the wiring,” FAF volunteer Jean Webb said. “We were able to replace the ceiling tiles and repaint the walls. We also re-did the floor.”

Feeding Avery Families provided 60 percent of the food assistance in Avery County in 2012. It currently distributes approximately 500 boxes of food to more than 1,000 individuals every month.

According to Cox, FAF’s mission would be much more difficult without Food Lion’s assistance. The store delivers food to the nonprofit five days a week.

Rita Robertson, Food Lion’s regional community relations manager, was on hand early Monday morning, Sept. 21, to oversee the food delivery and to visit FAF’s newly reworked pantry.

“They really turned this place around,” Robertson said. “The old office was dark and dingy, and now it looks so bright and clean.”

Robertson’s job at Food Lion is largely based around the distribution of charitable funds to food pantries in the corporation’s 10-state area of operation. Robertson is noticeably passionate and well informed about her work.

“We don’t want to just provide food,” Robertson said. “We want to provide good food, not just carbs and junk food. We want to make sure people are getting the protein that they need, things like tuna, peanut butter, oatmeal and veggies.”

FAF is a partner of the Asheville-based non-profit Manna Food Bank, which had employees on hand to lend aid during Food Lion’s delivery.

“Corporate support is a huge enabler of what we do,” Jill Hanson with Manna said. “This is a perfect example of corporation and community coming together and is a big part of how we function.”

Bobby Walters, a Food Lion store manager from Morganton, drove with his crew all the way up the mountain to assist.

“We help out whenever we can,” Walters said. “This is all about helping to feed people. That’s what we do, we are in the grocery business.”

Cox, who was waist-deep in boxes organizing and stacking the food that men and women hand-trucked in from a truck outside, thanked everyone for coming out to help.

“I can’t say enough nice things about Food Lion. Everyone has been so gracious to have done all of this to help us,” Cox said.

For more information about Feeding Avery Families, click to or call (828) 260-6043. For more information about Food Lion’s charitable operations, click to

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