International Paper stocks Foodbank’s Western Tidewater shelves

Published 9:07 pm Sunday, November 20, 2022

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The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore opened its Western Tidewater Branch in Franklin this September to eliminate food insecurity and its root causes in the community, and an International Paper news release noted that the Franklin mill team had the honor of stocking the shelves at the brand new facility for the first time Monday, Nov. 7.

“While the national average collected in a workplace food drive is about four pounds of food per person, the wonderful people who work at the Franklin mill donated generously — contributing an impressive 41 pounds per employee,” officials stated. 

The mill’s annual food drive competition tipped the scales at 13,051 pounds this year. Since the mill began the tradition in 2018, it has provided more than 20 tons of food to those in need.

Franklin Cooperative Ministry Director Margaret Anne C. Smith recently announced that with the opening of the Foodbank’s Western Tidewater Branch, FCM will begin phasing out its existing food pantry as it works to build relationships and limit duplication of services.

“As the Foodbank steps forward and we slowly step back, we will not be requesting or restocking jelly, pasta sauce, canned vegetables, dried or canned beans, canned meats and canned fruit that require a can opener, oatmeal, grits, soup, ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, pasta, rice, muffin mix and tea bags,” Smith stated.

Foodbank President and CEO Christopher Tan said, “We are honored that the Franklin Cooperative Ministry has entrusted us with carrying on this part of its mission. We will work hard every day to continue its legacy of caring for those who are food insecure.”

Foodbank Senior Director of Communications David Brandt said that with the change, the Foodbank will send household items to FCM whenever it receives them, and the annual food drives at International Paper and the Franklin Police Department will now support the Foodbank.

The IP release noted that each year, the mill teams compete for the food drive title. 

“It’s fun to watch the teams work together to bring in canned food on pallets wrapped in tarps so we don’t tip off the other teams with our progress, make team road trips to the commissary to return with truckloads of food, or take our children and grandkids with us to the grocery store with their own money and a copy of the Foodbank’s wish list,” Area Manager of Maintenance Jonathan Craddock said. “With each experience, there are many moments of compassion and kindness — and that’s what it’s all about.”

In addition to 331 boxes of food, IP provided 750 boxes produced by the IP Petersburg Corrugated Box plant, 500 period product kits assembled by Franklin Mill REACH Engineers and a $10,000 IP Foundation grant. 

“At IP, we believe that our company cannot succeed if our communities do not succeed,” Franklin Mill Communications Manager Jenny Dixon said. “We mobilize our people, products and resources to address critical needs in the communities where our employees live and work. Our employees are passionate about supporting critical community needs, and we strive to be a force for good in our community.”
According to Feeding America, there are more than 21,600 individuals in Western Tidewater experiencing food insecurity. Approximately 5,200 of these individuals are children.

Hunger has a harmful impact on child development and education — children from food-insecure homes are more likely to repeat a grade in elementary school, have lower math scores and experience developmental delays in language and motor skills.