On Wednesday, Nov. 14, Brookshire Grocery Co. stores will begin the annual Spirit of Christmas Food Drive in supermarkets located throughout Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Approximately 150 stores will collect donations of non-perishable food items and team up with a wide range of service organizations, food pantries, and volunteers to distribute food to families who need assistance before Christmas.

BGC donates boxes in which to pack 20 to 30 pounds of food, donates coupons for a free hen to go along with the shelf-stable goods collected, and sells scan coupons which go back to the partnering service groups to supply additional food needs.

The format differs a bit in each area, but the goal is the same—to pinpoint those who need help and make the holidays brighter by supplying groceries such as corn, beans, peas, rice, pasta, can meat, oatmeal, cereal, peanut butter, flour, sugar, and other nonperishable staples.

BGC partners with a wide range of groups such as Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary clubs, as well as Knight of Columbus chapters, food pantries and storefront missions, and other volunteers. The volunteer groups carry out the sorting, packing and distribution, and they help ensure all food collected in a community stays in that community. Outside the stores, BGC employees get involved in process, as well.

Customers can visit their local Brookshire’s or Super 1 Foods stores for details on ways to help.

Some stores conduct drives on a different timeline, such as those in northeast Louisiana, where the company partners with the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana to service 12 parishes. That effort lasts through early December. In Longview, Texas, stores work with city leaders and local businesses to support a food drive that helps families right before Thanksgiving.

BGC started its first food drive in 1982 in Tyler, Texas, with the Tyler-Rose City Kiwanis Club. Some 90 families received assistance that year. Last year some 500,000 pounds of food were collected and donated to more than 14,000 families in nearly 120 cities and towns in BGC’s tri-state market area. Altogether in 2011, BGC donated more than 16,000 free hen coupons and 20,000 food drive boxes for the food drive.

The food drive is the company’s largest annual community service project.