Local Partnership Feeds Delmarva Families

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In photo, from left:  James Oechsler, Milford Church of the Nazarene; State Rep. Jack Peterman; Walmart Milford Store Manager Stephanie Edwards; Mountaire Farms Corporate Director of Communications & Community Relations, Roger Marino.
In photo, from left: James Oechsler, Milford Church of the Nazarene; State Rep. Jack Peterman; Walmart Milford Store Manager Stephanie Edwards; Mountaire Farms Corporate Director of Communications & Community Relations, Roger Marino.

Staff Report

A partnership between the corporate and faith-based communities has helped feed hundreds of Delmarva families in need. Mountaire Farms, Walmart and more than three dozen churches of various denominations joined together to help gather, package and deliver Easter dinners for 1,200 families in the region.

“This is more than just an act of corporate largess,” said State Representative Jack Peterman of Milford, who aided the campaign.  “This is ultimately a story of people helping people.”

According to Roger Marino, Mountaire Farms’ Corporate Director of Communications & Community Relations, the company has a 19-year history of working with the faith-based community, sponsoring and organizing hunger campaigns.  “We fed 52,000 during our ‘Thanksgiving for Thousands’ campaign.  Our ‘Thanksgiving at Christmas’ campaign fed 10,000 in shelters and local food banks and ‘Thanksgiving at Easter’ served hundreds more.  At Mountaire, it’s all about doing the right things in the places where we live, work, play and pray,” he said.

Mr. Marino said the Easter effort started with letters sent to area churches asking them to identify “the people in their pews who were hurting.”  He said after they ascertained the extent of the need, they made plans to meet it, setting-up collection sites at seven food store locations.

One of those venues was the Milford Walmart.  Store Manager Stephanie Edwards said they provided in-store promotion of the effort and that support from the general public and her store’s associates was impressive.  “Efforts like this make a big difference in our community,” she said.  “This was our first time in the Easter campaign and I’m eager to see what this partnership will produce in the future.”

Representative Peterman said the Milford Walmart was a huge asset in the food drive.  “Stephanie and her staff really came through on this and I’m looking forward to working with them again.”

The Milford Walmart’s participation compliments the company’s “Fighting Hunger Together” initiative.  Walmart and its foundation have pledged that by 2015 it will donate more than 1.1 billion pounds of food from its stores, distribution centers and Sam’s Club locations as well as $250 million in grants to support hunger-relief organizations.

About 1,200 boxes of food, each capable of feeding a family of five, were packaged by volunteers at Mountaire’s Selbyville warehouse.  The company supplied a roaster chicken for each box and supplemented the collected food to ensure each container was completely filled.  After packing, the churches picked-up the boxes for distribution to their members prior to the holiday.

Peterman, who is also a member of the Milford Church of the Nazarene, said he helped facilitate the partnership between the corporate participants and Milford-area volunteers.  “I was pleased to have had an opportunity to modestly help such a worthy cause,” he said.  “What I found is that most people I spoke with, whether they were with altruistic companies like Mountaire Farms, or fellow parishioners, already had a strong desire to help their less fortunate neighbors.”