FOOD LION, NASCAR HIT HIGH GEAR TO AID ANTIHUNGER DRIVE

SALISBURY, N.C. -- Food Lion here helped jump-start the holiday giving season by sponsoring "The World's Fastest Food Drive."The theme of the drive, held for the Metrolina Food Bank Charlotte, N.C, plays off Food Lion's partnership with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.Anyone who brought in four or more cans of food received a free ticket to a racing event, according to Taun Earnest,

SALISBURY, N.C. -- Food Lion here helped jump-start the holiday giving season by sponsoring "The World's Fastest Food Drive."

The theme of the drive, held for the Metrolina Food Bank Charlotte, N.C, plays off Food Lion's partnership with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

Anyone who brought in four or more cans of food received a free ticket to a racing event, according to Taun Earnest, spokeswoman for the chain. The campaign ran the first weekend of this month, but Food Lion is keeping collection bins in the stores until Nov. 4. The company is also participating in the Food Industry's Campaign Against Hunger "Food for All" holiday campaign, in which consumers can donate $1, $3 or $5 to the hungry at the checkout. As reported in SN, the campaign kicked off yesterday and runs until Jan. 3.

Fifteen major chains, for a total of 6,000 units, are participating in the program, including Albertson's, Bruno's, Publix, Winn-Dixie Stores, American Stores and Super Kmart, said Tracey Taylor, spokeswoman for FICAH in Washington.

In addition to running consumer-fueled food drives, Food Lion is continuing to donate "unsellables," such as bent cans or products with damaged labels, to Second Harvest, a San Jose, Calif.-based food bank.

Other chains are helping local food banks. For example, Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., in addition to sponsoring two annual food drives, has close ties with Second Harvest and donates dry groceries and some nonfood items through product recovery centers at the division level, according to Debra Lambert, spokeswoman for the chain.

Kroger Co., Cincinnati, also works with Second Harvest at the division level. Each division has an employee who is a member of the board or volunteer for the food bank. Last year, Kroger donated $5.5 million in products to the food banks and flood relief, said spokesman Paul Burnish.

A&P, Montvale, N.J., also uses reclamation centers, usually located in the chain's warehouses around the country, where nonperishables are collected and then distributed to the Second Harvest Network. In addition, A&P participates in FICAH food drives, according to Mike Rourke, spokesman for the chain.

Still, there's more that can be done, noted Sandra Putz, food drive coordinator for Second Harvest. While about 60% of supermarkets donate regularly, the remaining 40% do not.

A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that about one-quarter of the food produced in the nation is wasted. In 1995, 96 billion pounds of food available for human consumption was lost at retail, consumer and food-service levels, the study noted.

Putz said she hopes that the Good Samaritan Food Donation law, which went into effect last year, will encourage more contributions. Under the new law, donors are protected from civil and criminal liability, should the products they donate later cause harm, as long as their gift was made in good faith.

Second Harvest can pick up salvage from any customer location in the United States. "We respond quickly to a donation. We provide trucking and track donation to the end user, who can report back to the donor," Putz said. Second Harvest can be reached at 1-800-771-2303.