MIDLAND, Ga. (WRBL) – Darden Restaurants, Olive Garden’s parent company, announced a new mobile food pantry coming to Midland through a half-million dollar grant.
The food pantry comes as part of a partnership between Darden and Feeding America to provide areas with “higher levels of food insecurity” an enhanced food pantry program.
Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation, with support from Penske Truck Leasing and Lineage Logistics, will provide Midland, and four other communities, a 26-foot refrigerated box truck to increase access to nutritious food, the company said in a statement.
Locally, the partnership will include Feeding America and Feeding the Valley Food Bank. The new initiative comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect food banks across the United States and causes “significant disruptions” in how they feed those in need.
“Hunger in America is a devastating reality for millions of our neighbors. The pandemic has created an increased need for food assistance and caused major disruptions for charitable food distribution,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Chief Executive Officer for Feeding America. “Mobile food pantries are a critical solution to addressing both concerns. These refrigerated vehicles will remove significant barriers to getting food to vulnerable populations in five different communities. We are grateful to Darden, Penske and Lineage for making this possible.”
Feeding America helped Darden identify food banks in need, including communities of color with disproportionately high levels of food insecurity. Darden’s release says the food banks identified and receiving the gift include:
- Feeding the Valley Food Bank in Midland, Ga.
- Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana in Shreveport, La.
- Mid-South Food Bank in Memphis, Tenn.
- San Antonio Food Bank in San Antonio, Texas
- Second Harvest of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla.
Feeding America and the Darden Foundation, as well as Darden Restaurants, have partnered for more than 10 years. Since 2018, the Darden Foundation has given $6.5 million to support member food banks across all 50 states.
“As a restaurant company, we are uniquely positioned to make a meaningful difference in the fight against hunger, and we are proud to partner with Feeding America to make a positive impact in communities where it is needed most,” said Gene Lee, Chairman and CEO of Darden. “Mobile food pantries are an important tool to help food banks meet the increased need caused by the pandemic. These vehicles will help Feeding America food banks in five different states directly distribute a large supply of food in their communities for years to come.”