The Giant Co.’s new reusable bag program will combine two trends in the world of food retail: sustainability and charitable giving during the coronavirus pandemic.
The bags, which will rotate seasonally, cost 99 cents, with 50 cents from each purchase going to a nonprofit organization “focused on eliminating hunger, changing children’s lives and healing the planet,” the retailer said.
The proceeds from the first bag, already in stores, will go to eight local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in areas served by Giant.
They include The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Penn State Children’s Hospital, in Hershey, Pennsylvania; Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, in Danville, Pennsylvania; Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C.; University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, in Charlottesville, Virginia; WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital, in West Virginia; Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, in Baltimore; and Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital.
New Charity Targets
From September through early 2021, the reusable bag program will focus on hunger relief efforts conducted by local food banks.
In spring 2021, customers who buy bags will support Planet Bee Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on driving awareness of pollinators in local communities. Earlier this year, Giant Co. completed a seven-acre pollinator-friendly solar field at its corporate headquarters in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. According to Giant, the initiative is the first of its kind for a grocer and creates a synergistic environment that contributes both to clean energy and support for bee and pollinator populations.
“The Giant Co. is committed to building healthy communities, and this new reusable bag program is just one way we are better aligning with our corporate social responsibility efforts to make an even greater impact,” said Emily Steinkamp, Giant’s manager of social impact. “Our customers have generously joined with us to support our charitable giving efforts in the past, and this is another way they can help give back to their local communities, while also healing the planet by using reusable bags when they shop.”
What’s Next for Bags?
The Giant Co. isn't the only food retailer to use bags — at least in some form — to combat hunger during the pandemic. For example, Southeastern Grocers Inc. (SEG), in concert with its charitable arm, the SEG Gives Foundation, has donated at least 258,000 $5 hunger relief bags to Feeding America. Customers and employees bought the bags earlier during the coronavirus outbreak as retailers and brands of all types were amping up charitable efforts while job losses accumulated in spring.
The new reusable bag effort from The Giant Co. also comes as focus increases on making food retail more sustainable. While Pennsylvania doesn't have a reusable bag mandate or a ban of plastic bags, several other states do, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those states are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont. Various other states are considering bag proposals.
The trend toward sustainability — a trend that includes reusable bags — promises to continue. Consider this general data: In a study conducted by Nielsen, 81% of global respondents said that it’s very or extremely important that companies implement programs to help the environment. Lining up with those numbers, Innova Market Insights found that 85% of consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom expect companies to invest in sustainability in the next year or so.
Additional research also suggests that grocery shoppers, as well as other retail consumers, are willing to pay more for products and services considered protective to the environment. It’s a reasonable bet that combining emerging sustainability practices — involving bags or not — with pandemic charitable efforts will catch the attention of more retailers and shoppers.
The Giant Co. is an omnichannel retailer serving millions of customers across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It has more than 33,000 associates supporting nearly 190 stores, 132 pharmacies, 105 fuel stations, and 125-plus online pickup hubs and grocery delivery service across hundreds of ZIP codes. The Giant Co. is a company of Ahold Delhaize USA, No. 11 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2020 list of the top food retailers in North America.