The familiar beep of a checkout register is not something you usually hear in a warehouse, much less a food bank’s warehouse. Thanks to a strong local partnership with Ingles Markets, based right here in Western North Carolina, MANNA FoodBank is one of only a few food banks across the country where you can hear it.
The Ingles Reclaim Center is in the heart of MANNA’s warehouses, next to the Volunteer Center, and thanks to this unique partnership, Ingles is donating more than 2 million pounds of food and other vital grocery items into the MANNA network. For almost 20 years, MANNA has been Ingles Markets reclamation partner, scanning, sorting, and boxing the products pulled from Ingles’ shelves and distributing them to the 200+ partner agency network that spans the 16-county service area. There are only a few partnerships similar to this in the entire country, where a grocery store partners directly with a food bank for their reclaim operations.
The products that come through the Ingles Reclaim Center at MANNA range from baking staples, to canned goods, to entrée meals, beverages, and frozen foods. But what makes this partnership a true win for the more than 100,000 people MANNA is serving every year is more than just food.
“We get cleaning supplies, toiletries, cooking utensils – all kinds of grocery store items that folks on a tight budget can’t afford,” says Angie Dellinger, MANNA FoodBank’s Reclaim Supervisor. “Those are all things that, if you can’t afford food, then you can’t afford shampoo, either.”
This partnership is more than just reclaiming products that could potentially get thrown away; last fiscal year, this partnership made up almost 13% of MANNA’s overall donations received – a huge portion of MANNA’s annual inventory. In MANNA’s 2017/2018 fiscal year, Ingles Reclaim donated over 2.8 million pounds of grocery items to the food bank.
“Things come through the Reclaim Center that are in great condition,” says Dellinger of the different products she sees every day. “We are lucky to have this partnership with Ingles; we can direct a lot of good food and other stuff right back into the community because of their support.”