Doing More in Knoxville

Feeding people instead of landfills by doing more and wasting less.

Most of us have never known what it’s like to suffer from hunger or to wonder when our next meal will come. We take a well-stocked refrigerator or a restaurant meal for granted. But each year, an estimated 50 million Americans do not get enough to eat, while 33 million tons of food goes to waste. It’s a problem that Bill Reighard wanted to fix.

In 1992, Bill left his executive career with PepsiCo Food Service International to form Food Donation Connection, LLC (FDC). The company provides an alternative to discarding surplus prepared food by linking major restaurant chains to local hunger relief agencies. “I felt a need to give back for the great career I’d had,” Bill says.

By leveraging his food industry knowledge, Bill created the first company to develop an international system that enables businesses to donate prepared foods. “Our philosophy from the beginning was that the food we provide to an agency should be of the same quality as you would get at a restaurant,” he says.

When FDC moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, from Virginia in 2002, Bill shifted the company’s banking to Regions. “Gail Collins, the Farragut Branch manager, and Jeff Allen, Business Banking relationship manager, took the time to learn about what we were doing and saw the potential,” Bill says. Over the years, the relationship has grown.

Today, with a $1.8 million expansion loan from Regions, FDC has completed a 9,200-square-foot facility that houses the technology and staff it takes to coordinate a network of 8,000 charitable service organizations and 15,000 restaurant locations of companies such as Yum! Brands, Darden Restaurants, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Whole Foods. In 2011, FDC’s efforts helped provide 35 million pounds of food to people in need.

“We really are a social enterprise,” Bill says. “Because of that, we need a bank that will own our vision. Regions is willing to be a part of our vision.”

Watch the Feeding People Instead of Filling Landfills video

From left to right: Gail Collins, Jeff Allen, Bill Reighard.