Independent halal grocer Mannan Supermarket, located in the New York City borough of Queens, is teaming up with Zara Charitable Foundation to combat food insecurity among local children. The foundation will underwrite the cost of a year’s worth of fresh, culturally appealing products sourced from Mannan to feed 200 diverse families served by The Gaton Foundation, a Jamaica, N.Y.-based nonprofit group that provides proper nutrition and wellness.
According program organizers, the timing of the initiative comes after a rollback of pandemic-era assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). “Food prices are increasing at the same time inflation is eating away at the value of money at the same time food benefits are vanishing, making it three times more expensive for families to afford to eat healthy,” explained Mannan's Mahinur Rahman. “When Zara suggested we work together to secure fresh, culturally relevant food to help people make ends meet, we were proud to supply the need.”
Added Tony Subraj, managing partner of Jamaica, N.Y.-based Zara Realty and a leader of the Zara Charitable Foundation: “Many families are struggling to put food on the table and, after both SNAP and WIC resources got reduced, we knew how important it was to step up and help hardworking families maintain access to fresh, nutritious food.”
The program kicked off in early March, when a Mannan Supermarket location in the Queens neighborhood of Jamaica donated a variety of foods to feed local families through Richmond Hill High School. Residents received products such as roti, lentils, tortillas, rice, butter, bread and crushed tomatoes.
It’s been a busy week for sustainability news in the food retailing business, as Earth Day has become a touchstone for sharing progress toward environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. The latest: United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) has rolled out a new Climate Action Partnership aimed at helping its suppliers make credible climate commitments.
The partnership, an extension of UNFI’s Climate Action Hub and part of its Better for All strategy, is designed to provide UNFI suppliers with resources and tools to “innovate and scale” climate solutions. To become a partner, suppliers must have their climate commitments verified through approved third-party organizations such as the Climate Collaborative, Climate Neutral, The Climate Pledge, the Science Based Targets Initiative or the SME Climate Hub.
According to UFFI, more than 40 suppliers have already joined the partnership following early outreach efforts, including Conagra, Bob’s Red Mill, Dr. Bronner’s, Gaia Herbs, Danone and Lundberg Family Farm. “By encouraging our suppliers to set climate goals, we are also making it easier for our customers to choose products that take action on climate,” said Alisha Real, UNFI’s VP of ESG and social impact. “It’s a win-win for all, and a collective step forward to addressing some of today’s most urgent issues.”
Earlier this month, UNFI revealed that it had completed its largest solar array investment to date at a distribution center in Howell, N.J., reflecting its own credible climate commitments through the Better for All sustainability agenda.
Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 49 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
FreshDirect Rolls Out Incubator Program for Small Businesses
FreshDirect has launched a one-year pilot program in which the e-grocer will work with emerging and diverse-owned businesses to help them grow their brands.
According to the online food retailer, the FreshDirect Small Business Incubator Program is an opportunity for businesses to adapt strategies for e-commerce success, grow their customer base within the New York metropolitan area, increase diversity within the food system, learn best practices and industry standards, be mentored by a FreshDirect category manager, be included on the FreshDirect website, and cultivate ongoing relationships with FreshDirect, distribution partners, community partners and other emerging entrepreneurs.
This year, FreshDirect aims to debut several new brands at retail as part of its incubator program. Final selections will be limited to one brand per category.
Those interested in applying for the program can do so online. Applications will be accepted through Friday, April 28.
Discount grocery chain Save A Lot has released its inaugural environmental, social and governance (ESG) report, detailing the company’s progress in these areas.
“At our core, Save A Lot is a business that exists to be a solution by providing access to fresh, affordable and healthy foods to families,” said Save A Lot CEO Leon Bergmann. “Community is wired into the very heart and soul of our business model, which is comprised of more than 180 small and medium-sized business owners who own and operate locations across the country. We are committed to identifying and prioritizing ways we can continue to make a positive impact for team members, retail partners and customers, while also taking action to support sustainability for the environment and the company itself.”
At Publix Super Market’s April 18 annual stockholders’ meeting, the company presented six associates with the Mr. George Community Service Award for exemplary commitment to their respective communities.
The award is named for Publix founder George Jenkins, affectionately called Mr. George, who espoused the belief that Publix and its associates should help others. One hundred and forty-seven associates have received the award since it was established in 1995.
“Mr. George believed that for a company to be successful, it must be involved in the communities it serves,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “Almost 93 years later, our associates still take these words to heart and remain committed to improving their communities and the people we serve.
Each year, one associate from each retail division and one support associate are chosen to receive the award. These associates are actively involved in their communities, display personal integrity and embody the generous spirit of Mr. George. Honorees get a personalized award, a feature in an internal company publication, dinner with Publix executives, three paid days off, and $5,000 donated to the charity or charities of their choice.
The 2023 recipients are as follows:
Atlanta Division: Store Manager Sefik Gluhic, Atlanta
Charlotte Division: Store Manager Tim Bismarck, Knoxville, Tenn.
Jacksonville Division: Store Manager Nicole Miller, DeLand, Fla.
Lakeland Division: Store Manager Billy Ray Drake, Sarasota, Fla.
Support: Manager of Retail Security Solutions Rick Abbatiello
Employee-owned and -operated Publix has more than 1,300 supermarkets in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, and more than 240,000 employees. The Lakeland, Fla.-based grocer is No. 12 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
FMI Members Head to DC to Push Food Industry Priorities
Member company representatives of FMI – The Food Industry Association are making their way to the nation’s capital today to advocate for legislative solutions to address industry issues and create opportunities for economic growth. Dozens of executives representing food retailers, wholesalers and product suppliers who sit on FMI’s Government Relations Committee are meeting with lawmakers to discuss such key topics as Farm Bill reauthorization, food safety regulations, credit card competition and pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) reform.
“We are excited to bring FMI members together once again to have important discussions with key elected officials on the industry’s top legislative priorities,” noted Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “The food industry plays a vital role in supplying more than 100 million American households with the foods and household goods they need every day.”
Added Hatcher: “Food retailers, wholesalers and product suppliers of all sizes support reauthorization of SNAP, a vital program to so many Americans, and advocate for the continued safety and efficiency of the most abundant food system in the world. Our retailer members are also confronted with ever-increasing credit card swipe fees paid to the largest banks and credit card companies at the expense of communities across our nation. Additionally, our members operate 12,000 pharmacies in diverse communities throughout our country that are seriously threatened by the anticompetitive business practices of the largest PBMs.”
FMI’s 2020 Day in Washington was canceled, and the organization’s 2021 and 2022 D.C. events were held virtually, because of the pandemic, so this year marks the first in-person Day in Washington since 2019.