ROCKINGHAM — For the past two weeks, Lead Teacher Latoya Holiday said her students at the Union County Community Action Inc. Head Start program in Hamlet have talked about grocery stores and set the classroom up with grocery store items and foods for the kids to use.
On Wednesday, the 4 and 5 year old students took what they learned in the classroom to the streets as they toured the Food Lion off U.S. 1.
Susan Freeman, customer service manager at Food Lion off U.S. 1, said the job can become routine at times. But when they hold tours with local youth, they’re able to see the store through their eyes.
“We love it when the kids come,” said Freeman. “It gives them a different perspective to the grocery store.”
The kids examined produce and learned how to tell if fruit was ready for purchase. They observed how meat was ground into burger meat. They shivered in the freezers to see where milk and ice cream was stored, and they decorated cookies and rang each other up on a cash register.
“They’re amazed and it opens their eyes to the possibilities,” said Freeman.
Produce Manager Keisha Estridge held up moldy oranges and strawberries to demonstrate how her job is to manage the produce to make sure customers receive the best products. She also held up a pineapple to let kids sniff it to tell if it was ready for purchase.
“To know it’s ready to eat, you have to smell it,” she said as she went down the line of students.
In addition to programs stores are able to provide to their local communities, Food Lion is also dedicated to fighting hunger through their Food Lion Feeds initiative and local food partners. Through associate volunteerism, food donations and in-store promotions, Food Lion helps nourish local communities. By the end of 2020 they’ve committed to donating 500 million meals, according to the company’s website.
Freeman said they’re also able to host a math night if teachers were interested.
Store manager Judy Burr said she started off on the cash register years ago when she first started working, and enjoyed seeing the kids practice ringing each other up.
“I see one of the students coming back when she’s old enough,” said Burr. “Food Lion has a lot of activities for the kids and we also give them reusable bags so that they can take them home to their parents and become advocates.”
Associate manager David Noles also said he liked watching the kid’s reactions to the tour and that his favorite activity is the cookie decorating.
“This is great for the community and schools,” he said. “It’s good for Food Lion to stay involved with the community.”
At the end of their tour, Freeman handed out reusable bags filled with a pencil pouch and a plush animal of the store’s mascot, Leo the lion.
“Thank you!” the kids shouted.
Reach Jasmine Hager at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]