According to a June report by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), Georgia ranks as the seventh most food insecure state in the country.  In addition, almost 30 percent of people served through Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s (GMFB) partner agencies are seeking help for the first time in their lives. Many are hardworking people who have had a life event affect their ability to make ends meet, spotlighting the reality that one in five Georgians is considered food insecure. It is this realization that drove the local Cargill Cares Council to explore opportunities for partnerships with GMFB.

“Our goal as the Cargill Cares Council is to strategically partner with wonderful organizations focused on improving living standards and promoting stable lives within our community,” said Christine Wages, Cargill Cares Council chairwoman. “Locally, we determined to place our focus on food and nutrition which is why GMFB was a perfect match for our efforts. In addition, we love that GMFB’s regional reach through five counties in North Georgia mirrors the regional reach of Cargill – it’s just a win-win for us all.”

Cargill Cares is committed to supporting the food bank as a “Stock the Shelves” Corporate Partner, a $50,000 commitment spread over two years. The financial commitment from Cargill will come from a mixture of employee giving, corporate matching gifts, and from the local Cargill Cares budget.

They also have committed to provide their employees with monthly volunteer opportunities through GMFB.

“Our volunteers are vital to GMFB,” said Kay Blackstock executive director at GMFB.  “Last year alone volunteer hours at the Food Bank were equivalent to six full time employees.  With a staff of 10 this more than doubles our capacity and extends our reach in a most efficient manner.”

Employees have already begun their volunteer efforts by painting more than 120 bowls for the food bank’s annual Empty Bowl Luncheon set for Sept. 27 at First Baptist Church Gainesville’s banquet hall.

Empty Bowl is the GMFB’s only annual fundraiser. It is vitally important to the operation of the food bank and its capacity to provide food to more than 63 partner agencies. It also is an opportunity for neighbors to help neighbors and partnerships like Cargill to form.

“Someone once said to me, there are givers and there are doers,” Wages said. “Partnering with GMFB provides our employees the opportunity to volunteer time, donate money or both – whichever manner is closest to their heart, and we love that.”

In addition, the two groups also are exploring ways for GMFB to provide confidential food assistance to any employees of Cargill who might qualify for help.

“I love that this opportunity not only lets us ‘Stock the Shelves’ for our community, but for our employees as well,” Wages added.

Kay Blackstock, executive director at GMFB, said corporate partners have a significant impact on the reach of the food bank.

“I am hoping that the partnership with Cargill will be a catalyst for other companies to get involved with our efforts,” said Blackstock.  “People don’t realize how big our logistics center and food operation really is.  It takes 1.2 million dollars each year to operate GMFB.  In order to continue to meet budget each year, and even begin to grow our reserves to feed as many hungry people as we can, it will take continued significant support of the community.”

“What I love about partnerships of any kind is that the more we can connect, the more we can help each other. This is definitely the case with our new strategic partnership with Cargill, and all our generous sponsors and donors,” concluded Blackstock.

For more information about how you can become involved with GMFB or how your company can become a corporate sponsor, call 770-534-4111 or visit