A retail store donation program established in 2013 has helped the Mid-South Food Bank to better serve food-insecure individuals in need. The program brings in about five million pounds of food, according to The Commercial Appeal. In November alone, 115 participating groceries provided 458,856 pounds of food.
The Mid-South Food Bank distributes about 15 million pounds of food annually to nearly 420,000 food-insecure residents of a 31-county area which extends north to the Kentucky border, west to Crittenden County in Arkansas, east to Tishomingo County in Mississippi and south two counties to Monroe. National donations, mostly through Feeding America, make up 50 percent of food donations. The 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Law helped to pave the way for grocery stores to donate food by offering liability protection, however the retail store donation program contributed to a more substantial increase in donations by making it easier than ever for stores to donate.
The program coordinates with partner agencies so that there are drivers to pick up food from groceries every day. Three dedicated drivers go to 12 to 15 stores daily, inspecting the food on-site, and delivering it to the food bank warehouse. The program employs strict adherence to food safety guidelines: Meat is frozen when picked up, then goes to a refrigerated truck, and finally to a freezer for storage until there is enough to feed a large group. Perishables such as fruit, vegetables, and bakery items, are often consumed the day they are picked up.