Food drive at Magnolia Gardens brings local food bank unexpected benefit

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens ended its recent holiday food drive to assists the Lowcountry Food Bank with a record-breaking 9.5 tons of non-perishable food. The food drive also has reaped an unexpected benefit to help the food bank’s mission to lead the fight against hunger throughout the 10 coastal counties of South Carolina.

The amount of food donated by Magnolia’s guests has increased each year since Magnolia launched the food drive seven years ago. This year’s total was 5,000 pounds more than the previous year. “Magnolia Plantation and Gardens should be proud of the increase of the community’s support this year,” said Alexis Barbalace, the Lowcountry Food Bank’s marketing manager. “It is quite a feat to increase by that amount, and we are grateful for this support.

“The food donated by Magnolia’s guests this holiday will provide more than 14,000 meals for children, seniors and families in coastal South Carolina,” Barbalace said. But the benefit does not end there.

Because Magnolia’s staff boxed and delivered the food to the food bank’s warehouse on Azalea Drive in North Charleston, the food bank was able to keep their fleet of trucks focused on delivering food to those who struggle with hunger. Magnolia made twelve deliveries between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31.

“Every time one of our trucks leave the building, it costs the Lowcountry Food Bank a considerable amount,” Barbalace said. “By providing transportation and delivery of the donations, Magnolia helped keep our administrative costs down.” This savings may seem small, but it goes a long way. “With each dollar saved the food bank can help provide six meals.”

“Our trucks are used to feed the community,” she said. “We don’t have a designated fleet of trucks to pick up food from food drives. While we have the ability to pick up large donations, we try to educate our supporters on how important it is to help with the logistics of running a food drive. That includes picking up the supplies and delivering their donations.”

Tom Johnson, Magnolia’s executive director, said we could not have accomplished this without the generosity of our guests. In exchange for a food donation, Magnolia provides one free admission for every item of food donated. “We believe this is an excellent way for us to use the popularity of our gardens to help the food bank’s mission.”

Magnolia will launch the food drive again on Nov. 1, Johnson said. “Each year we set our goal higher,” he added. “I suspect that we’ll report this time next year that we’ve surpassed 10.5 tons of food.”

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