Publix fundraiser benefits local food pantry

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

For Kaye Sheets, fighting hunger isn’t just a problem that affects other areas around the country. Indeed, she said, it’s a prevalent issue right here in Henry County.

“National statistics looking at Henry County specifically say that two out of every five children go to bed hungry,” said Sheets, chief executive officer of Helping in His Name Food Pantry in Stockbridge. “That’s just not OK with me. It’s got to be changed.”

Helping in His Name Food Pantry received a donation from the Publix Food For All program in the amount of $34,245. Special image

Helping in His Name is one of 60 nonprofit organizations in Publix Super Markets’ Atlanta division to receive donations to feed hundreds of hungry families. Publix donated more than $1.4 million through the Food For All® 2016 fundraiser, part of $5 million distributed throughout the southeast.

Sheets said hundreds of local families will benefit from Publix’s donation.

“We feed 1,350 families in Henry County, plus we have five partner agencies that feed the homeless and other disadvantaged people,” said Sheets. “So we really have become a hub in the wheel. Money and products come through our hub, and we distribute them to the 1,350 families.”

Publix gave $34,245 to the food pantry. Sheets said with the donation, Helping in His Name will be able, at 16 cents a pound, to buy about 206,000 pounds of food.

“We can feed about 343,000 people with that donation,” she continued. “We’re just proud to represent Henry and Clayton counties.”

Sheets said more than 60 percent of school-age children in Henry County receive free and reduced lunches. That, she said, raises another issue which cannot be overlooked.

“My question is, what a are these kids during weekends and in the summer?” she asked.

Sheets emphasized that although kids receive meals through backpack programs at several local churches, some of those churches “meet resistance” in certain areas. Donations to the food pantry, said Sheets, enable her to provide other necessary items for families.

“Not only do people need food, but they also need household and hygiene products,” she explained. “Food stamps doesn’t cover toilet paper and doesn’t cover soap, or any other hygiene product. So we try to take dollars to buy that.”

As part of Publix’s fundraiser, local shoppers added $1, $3, or $5 to their purchases, designating it to go into an account to help area nonprofits. The annual campaign distributes funds to programs fighting hunger and advocating for self-sufficiency both locally and regionally.

“Our stores throughout Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee are pleased to participate in this annual fundraiser,” said Brenda Reid, Publix media and community relations manager for the Atlanta division. “Thanks to the generosity of our customers -- and the enthusiasm of our associates -- the campaign is helping to make a difference in the lives of so many in the communities we serve.”

Food For All is a program of Making Change®, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that has partnered with Publix since 1988. Dave McConnell, president and CEO of Making Change, congratulated Publix’s efforts in helping to curb hunger.

“We commend Publix for their continued commitment to social responsibility and good corporate citizenship, and are honored to help facilitate their annual Food For All fundraiser,” said McConnell.