The lunch may not have been soup-kitchen quality, but the starkness of the menu got the point across.
About 100 community representatives and Golden State Foods employees gathered Thursday for what organizers called a “No Lunch lunch.” Guests were served a bowl of soup and a piece of bread.
The idea, organizers said, is to give people an idea of what the fare is like for people who depend on homeless shelters and soup kitchens for their daily meals.
Sue Garrison, a client at Community of Hope Ministries, one of the charities that benefited from Thursday’s event, drove the need home better than any other speaker. “I never thought I would need to visit a food pantry. But the recession hurt my husband’s business and we needed the help. They’ve been able to help me stretch my budget so my children don’t have to worry about what they are going to eat. They can realize their dreams now,” Garrison said.
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The event was a fundraiser for Golden State Foods, which will donate the money it raises to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and to Community of Hope, the Garner-based ministry that includes a food pantry which serves 165,000 meals last year.
“The idea is to raise awareness in the local community about the needs that are out there. One hundred percent of what we raise here today will stay in the local community,” said Anna Lisa Lukes, the executive director of the Golden State Foods Foundation, the charitable arm of Golden State Foods, which is a food distribution company. The company opened its Garner facility in 2009.
Lukes pointed out that one in five children in the U.S. is food insecure, which means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. In North Carolina, one in four children is considered food insecure, while that rate rises to one in three here in Wake County.
Floydricka Tanoh, the local chair of the GSF Foundation, encouraged her co-workers to look for ways to get involved in the company’s charitable cause. “You can volunteer with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. You can volunteer with Community of Hope. You can sign up online. And you can always donate to these causes,” Tanoh said.
Garner facility general manager Gregg Tarlton said the effort to battle food insecurity was a no-brainer for his company. “We’re a food distribution company. This is important to us. It was really something that’s right in our wheelhouse,” Tarlton said.
Though guests at Thursday’s lunch didn’t have to pay for their soup kitchen meal, the company raised money through both individual donations and corporate sponsors. The event boasted 15 corporate sponsors, including both Panera Bread and the Angus Barn, which provided the bread and soup participants ate.