The Atlanta Community Food Bank gathered for its 25th anniversary by hosting the 2023 Thanksgiving Media Meal.
On Monday, Nov. 13, the food bank hosted several media outlets distributing food in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. The food distribution was held at the newest food distribution center in Marietta, Georgia.
Kyle Wade, CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, shared insights into the organization’s 25-year journey. Wade, who has devoted 11 years to the food bank, expressed a personal desire to reach out to families facing disasters, citing growing up in Mississippi, Wade thinks of the families he serves in the community as no different than those he grew up, “I was a public school kid going to school with teammates and friends who were facing poverty and food insecurity. What I’ve tried to do in my professional life is dedicate my time to helping people like the kids I grew up with,” Wade said.
The food bank serves more than 200,000 households and distributes approximately 10 million pounds of food monthly to North Georgia, mostly African-American families, Waide cited.
Sarah Hurd, a native of Atlanta, visited the community food bank in preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday. Hurd cited the importance of the food bank in supporting families like hers. With a family of four, she emphasized the critical role the food bank plays in providing essential resources, “It means a lot, it’s a great opportunity to have good food that my family needs to help out this Thanksgiving season. So it’s really a blessing to be here,” Hurd said The Voice of Atlanta.
Leslie Mercedes, operations manager at the Community Food Center in Marietta, shared her experience and insights into the ongoing Thanksgiving movement and how she sees her work: “I worked for a non-profit organization. But I didn’t feel like there was much value in my work,” Mercedes, who joined the food bank in April this year, shortly before the newest facility opened in July, “I wanted to do something that I knew I was going to come home to and to say that I made a difference in someone’s life today,” Mercedes said The Voice of Atlanta
Prices of holiday items have risen this year as a result of inflation. According to a 2023 Thanksgiving report from Wells Fargo, canned blueberries are up 60%, while sweet potatoes are up 4% and canned green beans are up 9%.
Maurice Johnson, who is from Rochester, New York, visited the food bank to prepare for the holiday season with his sister, grandmother and extended family after moving to Georgia six years ago at his sister’s suggestion. Johnson cited finding a welcoming community in Marietta. “They are very helpful,” she said. “It’s very, very helpful and it’s a blessing that these guys are doing this. So I really appreciate that.”
Discussing his plans for Thanksgiving, Johnson mentioned his original plan to have his mother join him, but explained her unexpected illness. He still plans to prepare Thanksgiving dinner with his family and extended family. “I’ll usually cook like the meat and the vegetables and my sisters, my grandmother, my nieces, nephews, they’ll come over and we’ll just celebrate Thanksgiving,” Johnson said The Voice of Atlanta.
The media meal is also a service for the media to come and see what the Atlanta Community Food Bank does for the greater community.
Ed Westreich, director of marketing and communications at the Atlanta Community Food Bank
Coming has been with the Atlanta Community Food Bank for the past five years, but has worked in corporate America for more than two decades. Reflecting on his career change, he shared, “I wanted to do something in my second career that was in the Atlanta economy and helping people.” Previously, he was involved in a variety of roles including finance, executive support and leadership training at sales team in North America, Westreiche says he found his way to a more meaningful and impactful career. Citing having spent years moving through the Atlanta community, he now has the opportunity to be a part of it.
In discussing his current role, Westreichhe expressed his satisfaction at being closer to the end of the supply chain, making a direct impact on those in need. He emphasized the immediacy and significance of the work, noting the stories and faces he encounters on a daily basis. The media platter also caters to the media to come and see what the Atlanta Community Food Bank does for the greater community, “What we do is engage media partners, get them behind the lead desks, the Nielsen ratings , competition, getting them all in one room and just giving him a chance to do a little favor,” Westreiche continued.