The Operation Reentry North Carolina Rover van was displayed at ECU’s Military Appreciation Day football game against Tulane on Nov. 22 in Greenville. The Food Lion Mobile Veterans Pantry was unveiled during that game as well. (Contributed photos)
Operation Reentry North Carolina, based at East Carolina University, has partnered with grocer Food Lion to launch a mobile food pantry to help feed homeless and at-risk veterans in eastern North Carolina.
The mobile food pantry will accompany ECU faculty, staff and students who travel on the satellite-equipped Operation Reentry Rover van to provide medical and behavioral health services to veterans and their families in 13 eastern North Carolina counties.
The addition of the Food Lion Mobile Veterans Pantry will help build relationships more quickly, said Jim Menke, project manager for Operation Reentry North Carolina (ORNC). “These relationships are essential for veterans to fully benefit from the services ORNC and its partners offer,” he said.
The Food Lion mobile pantry will travel with the Operation Reentry van as part of the partnership to help feed at risk veterans.
With the van, ECU provides services such as motivational interviewing, biofeedback, telepsychiatry consultation and vocational counseling for about 175 military veterans and their families in Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Johnston, Jones, Nash, Onslow, Pitt, Sampson, Wayne and Wilson counties.
“With nearly 1.5 million veterans in the United States at risk of becoming homeless and an additional 130,000 veterans fighting hunger, Operation Reentry North Carolina and its fast growing number of partners, such as Food Lion, are serving at-risk veterans right here in eastern North Carolina. This partnership with Food Lion will further enable ORNC to make a difference in veterans’ lives throughout our region,” Menke said.
The mobile pantry will carry non-perishable food items for distribution and will house a portable grill donated by the ECU Honors College.
The pantry was unveiled and displayed with the van at ECU’s Military Appreciation Day football game against Tulane on Nov. 22 in Greenville.
“At Food Lion, we believe no one should have to choose between dinner or paying rent, or gasoline and buying groceries, especially those who have served our country in the military,” said David Garris, Food Lion’s director of operations for the Greenville market. “We owe a great debt to our service men and women and are honored to support this mobile pantry for veterans through our hunger relief platform, Food Lion Feeds. We want our customers, our communities, and especially our veterans to know they can count on us.”
Food Lion has committed to provide 500 million meals to individuals and families in need by the end of 2020 as part of Food Lion Feeds. The donation of the mobile pantry for veterans in eastern North Carolina is part of that commitment, Garris said.