End of verbal agreement halts food donations to local non-profit

Taking Action

(WRIC) — The Way, a non-profit in Highland Springs, delivers food to the elderly, veterans and low-income families in Richmond, Henrico and Hanover. Yet, now The Way is short on food.

“We actually help people,” says an emotional Linda Hanna.

Hanna not only volunteers at The Way, the cancer patient just off chemotherapy depends on the prepared meals they deliver.

“I have difficulty standing for long periods of time. I sit down a lot, these you can just put in the microwave,” Hanna said.

“Every shelf is usually full,” the Executive Director of The Way Brian Purcell said as he showed 8News a bare fridge.

“For over a year I have been picking up food donations from Kroger all prepared food items,” said Purcell.

That all stopped about of month ago. Kroger cut donations due to a partnership with Feeding America and FeedMore.

“I was picking up four days a week from them,” Purcell explained.

FeedMore learned The Way charged a fee for the food. For $6, folks get seven to 10 meals in a bag. The Way said they have to cover their costs.

“We pay for the bags that the food goes in, we pay for the containers. We also pay for somebody to deliver the food and we have to pay for the gas and insurance,” said Purcell.

In a statement on Facebook, Feedmore said:

Our Agency Network, comprised of nearly 300 nonprofits throughout our 34 county and city service area, is the heart soul of our distribution network. These nonprofits are diverse and include food pantries, churches, soup kitchens, emergency shelters and other community organizations and together, we work hard to fight hunger.

Most major food retailers have an agreement with Feeding America to distribute donated products only to Feeding America network food banks and their agencies. As a proud member of Feeding America, Feed More and our agencies are able to pick up any food available that is viable for human consumption directly from these retail partners.

Our agencies adhere to strict guidelines regarding food safety and how donated food is distributed. Agencies must follow strict food safety practices as defined by the USDA and ServSafe. In accordance with IRS code 170 (c)3, agencies may not sell, barter, fundraise or reward people for volunteer service or religious participation with donated food from Feed More and its retail partners. These guidelines help ensure the safe and equitable distribution of food to anyone who is in need.

We remain deeply committed to collecting, preparing and distributing food to the nearly 200,000 Central Virginia neighbors in need in the most efficient, effective and safe manner possible.”

FeedMore

“We have 13 senior communities that we deliver to and I think we have 175 people we deliver to twice a month,” Purcell said, “so all of those people would be affected by the food shortage that we have.”

He has started a petition hoping Kroger will reconsider.

“We do so much for so many people, we need it,” added Hanna.

Kroger told 8News that it is a national partnership their stores have with Feeding America and they’re not responsible for determining the groups that pick up food donations. They said it’s strictly up to FeedMore.

In the meantime, restaurants like ZZQ in Richmond and Roma’s in King William have stepped in by donating food. The Way says it could use the help from others or could prepare food themselves if some restaurants or grocers can donate food.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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