New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that creates guidelines for supermarkets to donate "excess food" to food pantries and similar nonprofits across the state.
Food banks across the country have had to stretch resources to meet the increased demand for food as employment rates rose during the COVID-19 pandemic, and New York state was no different.
"In speaking with the Westchester Food Bank and some of the community organizations that are distributing food, they are seeing the demand for their food double," explained Assemblyman Tom Abinati to Radio.com. "We're seeing lines like we've never before. We're seeing people who never before had problems putting food on the table are now needing the services of the food bank and the community organizations that distribute food."
State Sen. Pete Harckham and Assemblyman Abinanti, both Democrats, were the main supporters of the bill.
The Excess Food Act will require large supermarkets to donate excess food nearing its sell-by date to nonprofits or religious organizations that provide free food to their communities.
The food retail industry has been doing its best to lend a helping hand to reduce food insecurity throughout the pandemic.
The Giant Co. recently launched a new customer giving initiative to help local public schools across its market area alleviate food insecurity among students. The initiative enables school districts to cover outstanding student meal debt, expand food distribution programs and offer on-campus food pantries, among other hunger relief efforts. Through Feb. 28, shoppers at Giant, Martin’s and Giant Heirloom Market stores can round up their grocery purchases to the nearest dollar to donate to local public schools’ food programs. The Giant Co. has pledged to match the first $1 million donated by customers in this way.
Publix Super Markets recently supported Florida food banks. With demand at Florida food banks increasing upwards of 300 to 400%, Publix participated in a six-week program to support six of the state’s largest food banks with donations of pasta, canned vegetables, canned beans, cereal and boxed potatoes.
Additionally, Southeastern Grocers Inc. (SEG) partnered with more than 4,700 local organizations in the Southeast, hosting more than 30 mobile food pantries and providing more than 10 million meals to help fight hunger.
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.
Privately owned and operated by its more than 200,000 employees, Lakeland, Florida-based Publix has 1,264 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. The company is No. 12 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
Jacksonville, Florida-based SEG is one of the largest conventional supermarket companies in the United States, with grocery stores, liquor stores and in-store pharmacies serving communities throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. The company is No. 34 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.