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Fighting hunger with 40,000 pounds of macaroni and cheese

Story and photos by Glen Liford 5/26/2017


On hand for the Land O’ Lakes donation of 40,000 pounds of macaroni and cheese at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee warehouse in Nashville.
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The folks at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee saw first-hand a demonstration of the cooperative commitment to community on Wednesday, April 26, when a truck carrying 40,000 pounds of macaroni and cheese rolled up to the organization’s warehouse in Nashville.

The tasty macaroni and cheese was donated by Land O’ Lakes, Inc., as part of its First Run program to alleviate hunger in local communities. Land O’ Lakes, Inc. is one of America’s premier agribusiness food companies. It’s a member-owned cooperative that logged $13 billion in sales in 2016. And it is one of the nation’s largest cooperatives, ranking 215 on the Fortune 500.

Through the First Run program, Land O’ Lakes donates truckloads of fresh dairy products to food banks across the country. The donation to Second Harvest was the 114th donation for the program that was started in 2010.

“This is a way for us to give back and help those in need,” said Doug Reimer, a Land O’ Lakes board member and a hog farmer from northeast Iowa. “Our business is owned by farmers and this is a way for farmers to help other people.

“This macaroni and cheese is the same stuff sold by Land O’ Lakes in stores. It’s good food.”

Tennessee Farmers Cooperative officials were on hand for the presentation due to Co-op’s work with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee in recent years with programs like its Shooting Hunger efforts. Land O’ Lakes is a supplier of TFC, and through the cooperatives’ close business relationship, TFC is also a member of Land O’ Lakes.

“We love the mission of Second Harvest and are glad to be able to be a part of this effort,” said TFC Chief Executive Officer Bart Krisle.

Nancy Keil-Culbertson, senior vice president, external affairs, accepted the donation on behalf of Second Harvest.

“We are just so thrilled with this donation,” she said. “Who doesn’t like macaroni and cheese? This product will provide more than 68,000 servings that will go toward feeding thousands of Tennesseans.

“In Middle Tennessee one in seven Tennesseans are at risk for hunger, and that includes one in five children. Our mission is to serve hungry people and work to solve hunger issues in our community.”

Macaroni and cheese is one of the comfort foods popular with those relying on Second Harvest for assistance, said Culbertson. It’s a favorite with children and adults alike, and can be paired with meat and/or vegetables for tasty, nutritional meals.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee serves 46 counties in Middle and West Tennessee. The private, not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization distributes food and other products to approximately 490 nonprofit partner agencies that include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, childcare facilities, senior centers, group homes, and youth enrichment programs.

“When we talk about people struggling with food insecurity, you should realize they are people who look just like us,” said Culbertson. “We think about the single mother who has an hourly job and can’t keep enough food in the cupboards to make sure the kids have food during the summer months. Or one might be a senior on a fixed income who has to decide whether to pay for food or medicine this month.”

In 2016, Second Harvest distributed 31 million pounds of food that equated to some 26 million meals.

The majority of the organization’s funding comes from corporate and individual donations, along with much smaller amounts from foundations and government, civic, and religious organizations.

“Every dollar counts whether it’s from a business or an individual,” Culbertson stressed, noting that more than 96 percent of every dollar goes into programs.

Volunteers are also important to the organization’s mission. Last year, more than 35,000 volunteers provided 89,000 hours of service, which the organization equates to a value of at least $2 million.

“The volunteers sort and pack food donations, prepare backpacks for children, assemble senior and family boxes for emergency food assistance, glean fresh food from local farms, and distribute food at local pantries, among other work,” said Culbertson.

Whether donations take the form of cash or volunteer time, Culbertson said the staff is sincerely grateful for the support. She is especially proud of the relationships that she and the rest of staff have developed with donors like Land O’ Lakes and TFC.

“Our events like Shooting Hunger allow our donors to get to know us and what we do,” she said. “We have a little over 100 people who work here and no one does it to get rich. They work here because they have a passion to feed hungry people and make a difference in the community.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities or to make a donation to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, visit

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