Food Lion Expands Current Partnership With CIAA

Grocer becomes title sponsor of college sports org’s basketball tournament
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
Bridget Headshot
Food Lion Grovetown, GA Main Image
Since its partnership with the CIAA began 30 years ago, Food Lion has donated more than $7.5 million in scholarships to the organization's member schools.

Food Lion and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the nation’s oldest Historically Black athletic conference, comprising 13 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, have revealed a three-year expanded sponsorship agreement, under which Food Lion has become the title sponsor of the CIAA Basketball Tournament. This marks the most significant conference naming partnership in CIAA history.

All 13 CIAA member schools are located within Food Lion’s 10-state footprint across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. In 2024, the grocer will celebrate 30 years of partnership with the CIAA.

[Read more: “Schnucks to Offer Products Featuring 'Mizzou' Student Athletes”]

“The CIAA and Food Lion have a partnership that has created meaningful and visible impact for 30 years,” noted Jacqie McWilliams, commissioner of the Charlotte, N.C.-based CIAA. “I could not be prouder of the Food Lion leadership’s commitment to extend their investment even more into our member institutions, students and community. What is most exciting is that the naming of the CIAA basketball tournament will be ‘Food Lion.’ This is an example of another dream that has become a reality with a CIAA sponsor and another opportunity to work with a true MVP.”

The naming-rights deal is effective immediately and will continue through June 30, 2026. The first tournament under the expanded agreement will be the Food Lion CIAA Basketball Tournament, taking place Feb. 26-March 3 at CFG Bank Arena, in Baltimore. The event will be broadcast on ESPN platforms for the third year in a row. 

“Food Lion is honored to be named title sponsor of the basketball tournament and to continue working with the CIAA to have an everlasting impact on students and student athletes,” said LaTonya King, Food Lion’s director, diversity, equity and inclusion, organizational development and talent acquisition, as well as a recent Top Women in Grocery honoree and Grocery Impact panel member. “Our work together enables us to nourish students not just during their academic careers, but in their lives. The deep connections we have made in our CIAA communities are a testimony to the impact of our collaboration. We look forward to an exciting season both on and off the court.” 

Since the partnership began 30 years ago, Food Lion has donated more than $7.5 million in scholarships to CIAA schools. Food Lion Feeds, the food retailer’s hunger-relief platform, has provided funding for campus food pantries with grants totaling more than $200,000, helping stock food pantries and nutrition lounges at the organization’s schools and in their surrounding communities.                           

Conducting 14 championships attended by more than 150,000 fans from around the country, the CIAA is governed by the presidents and chancellors of its member institutions: Bowie State University, Bluefield State University, Claflin University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Livingstone College, Saint Augustine’s University, Shaw University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University and Winston-Salem State University.

Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion operates more than 1,100 stores with 82,000-plus associates. Its parent company, Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company one of its Retailers of the Century and its 10 Most Sustainable Grocers

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