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HACL Receives 1,400 Boxed Meals

More than 1,000 Robeson County families will have dinner on the table this Christmas thanks to Mountaire Farms.

On Monday, the chicken manufacturing plant used the Lumberton Housing Authority office as a central location for the distribution of 1,400 boxed dinners to be dispersed across multiple housing authorities and organizations as part of the Christmas for Thousands initiative. Each box contained a meal, a whole chicken, dressing, green beans and brownies, enough to feed four people.

"As a housing authority, a lot of the times we're the ones out seeking resources, so this is one time when we've got resources so we can help distribute back out to other groups within the community," said Adrian Lowery, Lumberton Housing Authority director.

"That's the part that I appreciate, that we have an opportunity where we can give back," he added.

The authority staff used their day off Monday to assist with coordinating the distribution, which included them knocking on more than 500 doors to surprise residents with a meal.

"We're closed this week," Lowery said. "We just let our staff know and they stepped up to the plate and said 'If we have to be there, we'll be there.' So I really need to thank my staff for coming out on a day they're not suppose to be here."

Monday's Christmas for Thousands event was an inaugural charity effort. The company typically holds a Thanksgiving for Thousands.

"We just wanted to find another way to give back during these uncertain times in 2020," said Jarrod Lowery, a Mountaire Community Relations manager.

Part of the company's creed is "to be good stewards of all of the assets that God has entrusted to us," Lowery said.

"We are always seeing the need and are always willing to help in times of need," he said. "We want to take every opportunity to expand our charitable giving, our charitable footprint, and what better way than during Christmastime?"

In preparation for the event, Mountaire employees spent Thursday and Friday filling boxes, something they "love" doing each year, said Mark Reif, another Community Relations manager for Mountaire.

"They all are appreciative just of the chance to be a part of something that can help give back to the community," Reif said. "They like to do this."

In addition to residents of the Lumberton Housing Authorities, boxes were distributed to the Pembroke and Fairmont housing authorities, the Lumberton Police Department, and Robeson County Disaster Recovery Coalition to be dispersed to residents. Jarrod said boxes also will be distributed to health-care clinics across Robeson County and in neighboring counties.

Councilman Eric Chavis said Monday's act "warms his heart."

"So much is going on," Chavis said. "A lot of families lives have been lost due to the pandemic and people are out of work, and it's good to be able to give something back to them and be able to help them try to get along through this season. We're much much appreciative of what Mountaire is doing."

State Rep. Charles Graham said the meal distribution could not have come at a better time.

"We're at a serious crisis here with the pandemic, and, of course, this is very timely for a lot of families who have lost loved ones and who are out of work," Graham said. "This is coming at a great time for our county, for our citizens."

Mountaire deserves many "thanks" for all of their efforts this past year, he said.

One thing a pandemic has increased is the need for giving, Adrian Lowery said. This is a time to remember those in greater need.

"With the pandemic going on, people are really focused on their household and I don't think they understand that when we start talking about low-income families, it's even more of an impact," he said. "The fact that you can provide a meal for them for Christmas - or at least one day they can come together to eat as a family - I don't think it gets any better than that."

Whether or not someone has food to eat is not a worry people should endure during Christmas, Jarrod Lowery said.

"This isn't a time of year where people should have to worry about where dinner is coming from," he said. "This should be a time when people should be trying to figure out how to spend time with their family."

This article was written by Tomeka Sinclair who can be reached at or 910-416-5865.