Grocers Rush to Provide Relief to Haitian Earthquake Victims

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Grocers Rush to Provide Relief to Haitian Earthquake Victims

In the wake of the devastation in Haiti following the most powerful earthquake to hit the country in over 200 years, food retailers across the United States acted swiftly to raise funds to help the many victims. Following is a sampling of the outpouring of charity and concern by the grocery community.

Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp. has donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross (ARC) on behalf of its ShopRite and PriceRite stores. ARC’s International Response Fund is the intended recipient of funds raised through Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix’s program enabling customers to donate any amount by adding it to their grocery totals at checkout, in addition to the grocer’s separate $100,000 donation.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Winn Dixie has a similar “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” initiative at all of its stores to benefit ARC, along with a $200,000 donation from the Winn-Dixie Foundation and the Western Union Foundation.

A program at Ahold USA banners is also collecting donations in all stores and corporate offices for ARC through Jan. 31, in tandem with a $100,000 donation by the Quincy, Mass.-based company. Noted Robin Michel, division president of Landover, Md.-based Giant Food, an Ahold USA banner: “Many community members and organizations from our region have strong ties to Haiti. Our friends, neighbors, and customers have been impacted by this disaster ... Together, we can make a difference.”

Harris-Teeter, a subsidiary of Charlotte, N.C.-based Ruddick Corp., donated $25,000 to the ARC effort and is selling $1 and $5 earthquake relief cards through Jan. 31, while Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans has begun soliciting customer checkout donations at all 75 stores, as well as making a $100,000 donation through the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation.

Over the weekend, Larchmont, N.Y.-based D’Agostino Supermarkets collected donations in the amount of $1 or other amounts to the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB). Nick D’Agostino III, COO and president of the iconic New York metropolitan area chain, said that the charity was chosen because “[t]hey have a long history of making a difference in many countries, including Haiti. Moreover, my father, Nick D’Agostino Jr., chairman and CEO of D’Agostino, is on the board, so I am well aware of their admirable initiatives.”

The Kroger Co.’s family of grocery stores across the country is helping to collect donations for ARC’s Haitian earthquake relief effort. Customers shopping at Kroger’s multi-banner supermarkets can put cash in coin boxes at checkout lines or have donations added to their purchase total. Kroger is additionally accepting online donations at its Web site. “Kroger customers and associates have a history of giving during times of disasters such as these,” said Tim McGurk, a Louisville-based public affairs manager for the Cincinnati-based Kroger. “Our hearts certainly are with the people of Haiti in this tragic time.”

Meanwhile, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spartan Stores’ D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare and Felpausch Supermarkets in Michigan have established Red Kettles in front of stores through Jan. 24 in support of The Salvation Army’s efforts to assist with the international relief effort in Haiti. Spartan’s efforts to address the crisis falls in step with the retailer/distributor’s stance “to do our part to help our neighbors in need — whether they area half block or a half-continent away,” said Spartan Stores’ spokeswoman Jeanne Norcross.

Other Spartan Stores relief efforts include employee contributions throughout its retail stores, including Glen’s Markets in Northern Michigan and VG’s in eastern Michigan, as well as Spartan’s office, warehouses and transportation operations.

Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets, Inc. is collecting donations on behalf of the ARC’s Haiti Relief and Development Fund in all of its stores, which are encouraging customers to donate the amount they wish by adding to their grocery bill at checkout or at the courtesy desk via cash, check, and credit or debit card transactions. According to David Hepfinger, president and CEO of the 165-store chain, “In addition, we plan to make a significant corporate donation to the relief efforts for the victims of this earthquake.”

Safeway, Inc. has launched a companywide initiative to provide humanitarian relief for people affected by the earthquake. The Safeway Foundation will make an initial contribution of $100,000 to ARC and UNICEF, two organizations at the forefront of the earthquake disaster relief mission. Also, the company’s stores throughout the United States and Canada have begun collecting donations for Haiti disaster relief through a checkstand program. Further, Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway’s corporate offices and other non-store facilities will conduct employee fundraisers so the company’s entire workforce can contribute to the effort.

Save Mart Supermarkets stores began collecting donations for ARC last week, and will continue to do so through Feb. 1. Customers are welcome to make a contribution at the checkstand, and their receipts will itemize the amount donated.

It wasn’t only the big or well-known national and regional players that showed their compassionate side in the face of human suffering, however: Natural and organic retailer PCC Natural Markets, which operates nine stores in the Seattle area, made a $25,000 donation to ARC for the benefit of relief efforts.