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Piedmont area grocery shoppers will have an opportunity to assist in feeding their neighbors in need during the month of February.

The Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, a member of the Second Harvest National Food Bank Network, is coordinating local efforts for Second Harvest's first national canned food drive beginning Feb. 4 and continuing throughout the month.``All the member food banks have done food drives,' Holbrook said, ``but this is the first nationwide drive.'

The network hopes to collect three million pounds of canned goods. Collection bins will be placed in Harris Teeter grocery stores in Greensboro, High Point, Burlington and Winston-Salem.

``By participating in this national collection effort, Piedmont residents can demonstrate their concern for the nation's hunger problems and help their neighbors,' said Nan Holbrook, executive director of the Food Bank.

``It's a very worthy cause,' said James Allison, manager of Harris Teeter at Friendly Shopping Center. ``It will help people in the community, and we are glad to be a part of it.'

Allison said a collection bin for the food drive will be located near the door of the store for easy access to customers.

Other local Harris Teeter stores participating are those located at 4215 High Point Road, 1000 Summit Ave., 609 College Road, 4624 W. Market St., 2965 Battleground Ave., 2268 Golden Gate Drive, 5710 W. High Point Road and 2920 Randleman Road.

``The Food Bank feeds the needy and hungry in Northwest North Carolina by salvaging food donated by the food industry and distributing it to the 285 member non-profit agencies and churches feeding the poor and needy' in 18 area counties, Holbrook said.

Founded in 1982, the Food Bank has distributed more than 9 million pounds of food and related products to agencies who feed the poor and needy. Member agencies are inspected before acceptance and monitored every two years thereafter.

The service area for Food Bank includes Alamance, Alexander, Allegheny, Ashe, Caldwell, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.

``The need is great in the winter months,' Holbrook said. ``Everybody thinks about donating around Christmas, but food is needed throughout the year.

``We also need the visibility,' she added. ``We need to remind people that they have hungry neighbors out there.'

Through its network of food banks, Second Harvest channels surplus, donated products to nearly 39,000 agencies nationwide.

Since Second Harvest receives no governmental funding, it relies on the support of the food industry, member food banks, corporations, foundations and individuals.

The national canned food drive provides a unique opportunity for manufacturers, retailers and consumers to unit and respond to the nation's hunger problem, Holbrook said.

A wide variety of Northwest North Carolina companies and plants donate products to the Food Bank. Since 1983, damaged grocery store items have been donated from the Harris Teeter, Food World reclamation warehouse.

The Food Bank inspects, sorts and distributes these items which otherwise would have been thrown away.

National companies are lending their support to the drive through special purchase incentives. RJR Nabisco, Campbell Soup Company, Coca-Cola and Pillsbury will offer cents-off coupons in a national advertising section.

These companies also help the Food Bank on a daily basis by donating products which otherwise might be wasted.

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