Georgia Mountain Food Bank (GMFB) collects surplus food and grocery products for distribution to nonprofit partner agencies serving the hungry in the Georgia Mountain region. Located in Gainesville, GMFB collaborates with Atlanta Community Food Bank to provide food to nonprofits with hunger relief programs across five counties. These programs provide direct assistance to families and individuals who need food assistance due to job loss or low income.

Since its inception in 2008, GMFB has provided more than 58 million pounds of food, including almost 5.7 million meals in 2020 alone. However, 2020 provided an extraordinary challenge in the form of the novel coronavirus pandemic – COVID-19 – and the added economic burden it wrought throughout the nation and right here in north Georgia. The pandemic not only significantly increased the number of food insecure people in north Georgia, it also threatened all food distribution methods, as well as the viability of one of GMFB’s most significant sources of annual funding: the Empty Bowl Luncheon.

Geographical map showing people and counties served.

Printed flyer for Georgia Mountain Food Bank



As COVID-19 panic engulfed the nation – north Georgia included – GMFB knew it would be tested by several factors. There was increased need: Prior to the pandemic, one in five residents in GMFB’s coverage area were food insecure; the economic hardships engendered by COVID-19 doubled that number. And there was a major logistical challenge: There was a temporary shutdown of partner agencies that both provided and distributed foods and a loss of volunteers due to the national state of emergency. However, thanks to entities such as the USDA’s Farmers to Families program and the actions of the National Guard, there was food both available and ready to be distributed – just not via traditional methods. Therefore, Forum Communications stepped in to help GMFB inform the families and individuals that it supports and ensure that they would not go hungry. Meanwhile, the potential loss or depreciation of the vital Empty Bowl Luncheon loomed. Therefore, Forum Communications helped publicize a switch to a virtual luncheon, as well as helped ensure that the event played out smoothly online.




Forum Communications undertook a vast information campaign that encompassed GMFB’s online and social media presence. We created a COVID-19 information page upon GMFB’s website, as well as pushed social media messages across a range of platforms, that not only instructed those in need how they could obtain food boxes and meals, but also how those who wanted to donate could best do so. This included purchased Facebook ads that went viral. One in four Georgia children faces hunger issues. And since the COVID-19 pandemic led to a temporary use of virtual school, many children were initially unable to receive the free meals on which they often count. That is why we formulated social media ads that included pictures of children and the tagline, “Join us in Feeding Hope Together”. 

These actions helped GMFB to distribute almost 1.2 million pounds of fresh produce between March and November 2020. These efforts also helped lead to 126,000 meals collected through community food drives, 359,000 meals donated through corporate food drives, and almost 2.5 million meals donated by retail partners. In fact, between March and June 2020, GMFB successfully distributed as many meals as it typically would over an entire 12-month period. These efforts came in large part to marketing strategies such as increased posts on Linked-In, which targeted corporate donors and doubled the number of followers GMFB had on the platform.

Forum also fostered media relationships that led to radio appeals, digital and print ads in local media, and spots during live broadcasts (such as during traffic reports). Meanwhile, Forum ensured that the Empty Bowl Luncheon retained its visibility – despite its shift to a virtual event – by creating an impact video that was featured in an email marketing campaign and was housed on GMFB’s Empty Bowl page. These efforts helped Empty Bowl 2020 to provide funding for 833,000 meals – the most an individual Empty Bowl Luncheon has ever produced.




Bowls that were designed and used for the GMFB Empty Bowl campaign.

Empty Bowl Campaign

Georgia Mountain Food Bank's Empty Bowl campaign graphic presented on a laptop

Flyer designed for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank Empty Bowl campaign

What We Accomplished

Website Landing Page Development 
Social Media Engagement
Content Creation
Regional Media Relations & Publicity