FMI — The Food Industry Association has recognized the innovative contributions grocers have made to help the communities they serve, with the 2020 Community Outreach Awards.
“Grocery stores have long supported local community efforts with contributions to food pantries, community programs and even sports teams,” noted Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Virginia-based FMI. “They are the essence of community bulletin boards. As we navigate times of prosperity or uncertainty in our communities, grocers are stepping outside their traditional goodwill programs to elevate social issues and sustainability efforts. Food retailers do all they can to make their communities great places to live by keeping a caring eye on the needs of all their customers.”
The awards are as follows:
Youth Development Program
Northgate González Market: Familia González Reynoso Foundation
Established in 2002, the foundation honors the legacy of Don Miguel González, late owner and founder of Northgate González Market, by supporting organizations involved with higher education, human services, schools, orphanages, scholarships and grants to individuals. COVID-19 exhausted the foundation’s finances, but it still managed to help the most vulnerable in its communities. Northgate was the first retailer to host golf tournaments after the pandemic hit. The two events, held in September and October, raised a total of $450,000 for communities in need.
Skogen’s Festival Foods: Grocers on the Green
For 17 years, the annual Festival Foods Grocers on the Green Golf Outing has raised much-needed funds for the Einstein Project to advance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education in Wisconsin. This year’s sudden increase in learning at home enabled Einstein Project leaders to help educators and students adapt. The team created an online marketplace to bring learning opportunities directly to students, and it shared comprehensive lists of free digital resources that educators could use to engage students in meaningful remote learning.
Programs Addressing Hunger
Smart & Final and Smart & Final Foundation: Project Feed First Responders
The charitable arm of Smart & Final and a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Smart & Final Charitable Foundation aids nonprofit organizations working on such issues as health and wellness, education, hunger relief, team sports and youth development, and disaster relief. Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Smart & Final and its foundation joined forces to create Project Feed First Responders, an initiative to ensure that first responders and medical workers had the food and supplies they needed.
Menomonie Market Food Co-Op: Double Dollars
Despite not winning federal grants it had helped apply for, Menomonie Market was able to secure a $3,000 award from the Community Foundation of Wisconsin's Dunn County to help start its own Double Dollars program, a hunger-reducing healthy-eating program that incentivizes lower-income shoppers to buy more fruits and vegetables by matching their produce purchases, with all other funding coming from its customers. At each transaction, cashiers ask shoppers whether they’d like to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar, with those extra cents becoming a donation to the Double Dollars program. About half of all transactions are rounded up, keeping the program funded. All grant funds and customer donations received are passed on to recipients in the form of Double Dollars vouchers.
Neighborhood Health Improvement Programs
Giant Food: Ward 8 Initiative
In 2018, Giant Food launched a neighborhood health-improvement program in Ward 8 of Washington, D.C., the district’s community with the highest rates of poverty and chronic disease. Guided by community members, local leaders and its team of licensed nutritionists, Giant Food, the only grocery store in the area, focused on three areas: improving knowledge of the connection between food and health, increasing ways to make nutrient-dense foods more affordable, and making access to healthy food easier for the entire community. Sales data indicates that customers have maintained higher levels of healthy food in their baskets despite the current pandemic.
Hy-Vee gives back through COVID-19 and civil unrest relief
In a year that has brought such huge challenges as pandemic-related food shortages and civil unrest across the country, Hy-Vee took actions in two areas: committing more than $1 million in food and supplies to support local food banks, and pledging $1 million and 1 million volunteer hours to support racial equality and unity in its communities, and aid areas in need. After the damage caused by violence in the Twin Cities, Hy-Vee employees supported local cleanup efforts and distributed meals, snacks and water to affected neighborhoods, while in Des Moines, Iowa, employees worked with local organizations to assist with home repairs and package meals.
Landover, Maryland-based Giant Food operates 164 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia with approximately 20,000 associates. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 11 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, an employee-owned company operating more than 265 retail stores across eight Midwestern states is No. 33 on PG’s list, and Commerce, California-based Smart & Final, operating 256 locations, including larger-format stores under the Smart & Final Extra! banner that combine a warehouse-store format with traditional grocery offerings, is No. 57; De Pere, Wisconsin-based Skogen’s Festival Foods, a family- and employee-owned grocer with 33 full-service supermarkets across the Badger State, is No. 92; and Anaheim, California-based Northgate Gonzalez Market, with with 41 stores in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties, is No. 98.