SALISBURY, N.C. — With one in eight neighbors, including one in six children, facing hunger across its 10-state footprint, Food Lion set out in 2014 to help its neighbors by launching Food Lion Feeds, the company’s hunger relief initiative.

After committing to donate 500 million meals by the end of 2020, Food Lion announced today that it has reached its goal more than 18 months early.

“Each of these 500 million meals has helped one of our neighbors who did not know where their next meal would come from – children, seniors, service members, veterans and families across our footprint who were faced with the impossible choices caused by hunger,” said Food Lion President Meg Ham. “We won’t accept that many of our neighbors are food-insecure and struggle to nourish their families, so we felt compelled to take action by uniting with our customers and partners to eliminate the choices families are forced to make when they are hungry.”

To achieve this feat, the retailer worked tirelessly with its national hunger relief partner, Feeding America, and the 30 Feeding America-affiliated food banks across Food Lion’s 10-state service territory to identify opportunities to help and feed their neighbors. Additionally, Food Lion Feeds has made significant capital campaign commitments to partner food banks to increase access to nutritious food and create life-changing programs.

Through these partnerships and the efforts of Food Lion associates, customers and other partners over the past five years, Food Lion Feeds donated the meals through a combination of product, financial and equipment donations; disaster relief and recovery efforts; volunteer hours by associates; in-store retail campaigns; the company’s food rescue program to donate food before it perishes; and other sources.

“Our commitment to donate 500 million meals was significant, but it was about so much more than a number,” said Ham. “Nourishing our neighbors in the towns and cities we serve is what we do. So, we’re proud of achieving our goal and grateful to our customers and community partners who have helped us achieve it. We also recognize that there is more vital work to be done.”

Food Lion, based in Salisbury, N.C. since 1957, has more than 1,000 stores in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, inlcuding in Church Hill, TN, and employs more than 63,000.