(CNN)What started as an average Monday morning last month at a grocery store in Raeford, North Carolina, turned into something extraordinary when a 91-year-old Korean War veteran walked in and headed straight for the customer service counter.
Anonymous Korean War veteran purchases hundreds of meals for local hunger relief effort
The man, who asked to remain anonymous, walked into a Food Lion store and wrote a $1,500 check for the store's "Holidays Without Hunger" program. He also wrote a $500 check for 100 pre-packaged meal boxes -- also part of the program -- which contain food for a family of four and are donated to local food banks.
It was the largest single donation by an individual in the program's 17-year history.
"I was completely caught off guard when he handed them to me, and it took me a few seconds to gather my thoughts," store manager Charles Campbell told CNN. "I finally asked him what his motivation was for this generous gift."
The veteran told Campbell that he spent two years as a prisoner of war in the Korean War and was rarely fed. That led him to a dangerous weight of 90 pounds. The man said he knew what it's like not to know where the next meal is going to come from, or when.
The generous donation comes as more than 54 million Americans face food insecurity, according to the nation's largest hunger-relief organization, Feeding America. That is 17 million more than before the coronavirus outbreak.
When Campbell asked the veteran if he'd like to speak with any of the media representatives at the store's corporate office, the man said: "I'm not doing this for any publicity or recognition. I just plain and simple don't want people to be hungry."