Overwhelming demand led the Giant Co. to raise its funding for Pennsylvania small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to $500,000.
The Giant Co. is doubling the amount of funding available for the more than 100 recipients of its emergency grant program, which was introduced last month in partnership with nonprofit Team Pennsylvania. The grocer originally designated $250,000 for the program, but due to the overwhelming response, it decided to raise the amount to $500,000. In all, the company is awarding 110 grants to aid small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Reviewing more than 500 applications from small businesses across the commonwealth confirmed what we knew in our hearts: that the pandemic is having a devastating impact on our small business community,” noted Giant Co. President Nicholas Bertram. “We’re inspired by the strength and stories of these local businesses that, in many cases, have been serving our communities for generations. As a company focused on connecting families for a better future, doubling the funding to $500,000 was an easy decision because it meant we could provide more hope and help to these hard-working families and let them know that they are not alone.”
More than 500 submissions poured in during the two-week application period – 60-plus in just the first 24 hours. The 110 recipients span the entire state and represent various points in the food supply chain, including dairy farms; beef, pork and poultry farms; processors; orchards; produce farms; apiaries; maple syrup producers; artisan cheesemakers; craft breweries, winemakers and cider producers; specialty yogurt, snack, sauce and condiment manufacturers; a coffee roaster; and a confectioner.
“Our team was honored to work together with Giant to truly make a difference for small businesses in the commonwealth as they answer the call to feed fellow Pennsylvanians,” said Ryan Unger, president and CEO of Harrisburg-based Team Pennsylvania. “Reading through the applications, it is crystal clear that we all need to find ways to support these critical cogs in our agricultural supply chain. Their experiences will inform us as we work with our economic development and public sector partners to reopen and recover.”
With grants ranging from $2,500 up to $15,000, 55% are going to PA Preferred companies, while special designations – LGBT-owned, veteran-owned, women-owned, minority-owned, USDA defined beginner rancher/farmer, USDA defined socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmer – account for more than half of the grants awarded.
“We have been in business since 1887, and we are a fifth-generation family-run business,” noted Karen Thompson, of Jersey Shore, Pa.-based meat product manufacturer Clair D. Thompson and Sons Inc., one of the grant recipients. “We’ve been through the Great Depression, floods and fire, but this is by far the worst in modern memory because not only does it affect us but it affects all of our customers -- no one is left out. It has been very stressful, and this grant has helped to alleviate some of that pressure. We are extremely grateful and appreciate the Giant Co. for this grant that we shall use to continue our employees’ insurance benefits during the time they are forced off work, to help with expenses to continue additional sanitation and to upgrade our facility to meet this new market demand for individual packaging.”
Giant Co. and Team Pennsylvania also worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Chamber and Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association to create the initiative.
Based in Carlisle, Pa., the Giant Co. is an omnichannel retailer serving millions of customers across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, and employs more than 33,000 associates supporting nearly 190 stores, 132 pharmacies, 105 fuel stations, and more than 125 online pickup hubs and grocery delivery service. The Giant Company family of brands encompasses Giant, Martin’s, Giant Heirloom Market, Giant Direct and Martin’s Direct. The grocer is a company of Ahold Delhaize USA, No. 11 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food retailers in North America.