Dollar General said it expects to offer produce in up to 10,000 of its stores over the next several years, up from 1,300 stores currently, as it moves closer to functioning as a grocer in more of the communities where it operates.
The revelation about fresh food expansion was made in conjunction with an announcement of a new partnership with Feeding America. Dollar General said it entered into an operational partnership with Feeding America and made a $1 million donation to the organization to provide access to food resources in rural and otherwise underserved communities and to proactively address food insecurity across the country.
Dollar General’s top merchandising priority in recent years has been the addition of freezer and cooler space in new and remodeled stores to facilitate the addition of more refrigerated and frozen products. More recently, the company has been adding perishables and currently offers fresh produce in more than 1,300 stores. Those stores provide the top 20 items typically sold in grocery stores and approximately 80% of the produce categories carried by most grocers, according to the company. Plans call for expansion of the perishables program in up to 10,000 Dollar General stores over the next several years.
“Food insecurity impacts communities across the country, and given that Feeding America projects that 42 million people may face hunger as a result of the pandemic, we want to be part of the solution for those facing this issue,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO. “With our extensive store footprint, often in communities others have chosen not to serve, Dollar General is uniquely positioned to help combat hunger by offering convenient access to a variety of nutritious foods at affordable prices.”
The company’s work with Feeding America builds on existing efforts by providing in-kind donations of perishable foods to help nourish and feed those in need. Together with Feeding America and local community food banks, Vasos said Dollar General look forward to making a measurable impact in the fight against food insecurity and at full capacity will provide up to 20 million meals a year.
Dollar General is uniquely positioned to have an impact in large part because of its expansive and still growing footprint of nearly 18,000 stores. The company has also partnered with a registered nutritionist to create DG Better For You meals, which provide healthier recipes for each meal of the day with items sourced from Dollar General stores, and also created the Good & Smart private brand to provide yet another healthier option to customers.
“Each year, billons of pounds of food go to waste, while millions of Americans face hunger. Feeding America is grateful to Dollar General for ensuring that good, wholesome unsold food gets to people who need it most. We are also grateful for their generous donation of $1 million, which will help provide meals to children and families in rural communities,” said Claire Babineauz-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America.
Dollar General and Feeding America initially began testing food donations in summer 2020 in several Indianapolis and Atlanta-area stores, and Dollar General recently expanded its donation footprint to its DG Fresh cold storage facilities. In 2020, Dollar General’s donations provided more than two million meals to those in need.
In addition to weekly collections, the partnership will provide opportunities for Feeding America and local food banks to collect food items during times of crisis. For example, when Hurricane Zeta impacted an Atlanta-area Dollar General store in October 2020, Feeding America and its partners at the Atlanta Community Food Bank quickly collected food items and distributed them within the community.
Goodlettsville, Tennessee-based Dollar General operates more than 17,400 stores in 46 states, employing approximately 140,000 associates. The company is No. 15 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.