Retailers Respond to Devastating Hurricane

Publix, Walmart and Amazon among the many launching support efforts
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Red Cross
Food retailers are lending immediate support to Hurricane Ian relief efforts, including those spearheaded by the American Red Cross.

In the wake of devastating Hurricane Ian, grocers and nonprofit organizations are springing to action to help those affected by the near-Category 5 storm.

Publix, which operates stores in the hard-hit areas of Fort Myers, Naples and other coastal communities in Florida, announced that it is donating $1 million through its Publix Super Markets Charities arm to nonprofit groups assisting in recovery and cleanup efforts. Among other organizations, the funds will support the American Red Cross and United Way.

Experienced in pre- and post-hurricane assistance, the Florida-based food retailer is also launching a company-wide register campaign through which shoppers and associates can donate. All of the funds will go to relief efforts by the American Red Cross.

“I’m proud of our more than 230,000 associates who are working hard to take care of our customers, our communities and each other every day and especially in times of need,” said CEO Todd Jones. “We’re grateful to Publix Charities for their generous donation to help the people who have been affected by Hurricane Ian.”

Meanwhile, Walmart, Inc. announced that Walmart, Sam’s Club and the Walmart Foundation are committing up to $6 million to relief efforts, spanning donations of supplies to grants to groups that are on the ground.

“Our customers, members and associates are the most generous people we know. So as part of this commitment, we will help maximize their impact by matching contributions 1:1 when they donate at our registers, up to $2.5 million, or through our associate giving program,” the retailer reported on its website.

E-comm giant Amazon is also delivering. In addition to protecting employees in the storm’s path, the company activated its disaster relief hub in Atlanta – a special warehouse that contains more than a million relief items – and loaded 10 trucks with more than 360,000 water bottles. The company is supporting Red Cross outreach, too. “Our disaster relief team is ready to use Amazon’s logistics infrastructure and expertise to support the communities impacted by the storm,” the company shared in a statement.

Other regional chains are stepping in with assistance, as well. Salisbury, N.C.-headquartered Food Lion, which operates stores in the Southeastern region of the country, is raising funds through its Food Lion Feeds hunger relief initiatives. Customers across 10 states can donate at the register, with proceeds benefiting American Red Cross efforts. Food Lion is matching customer donations up to $30,000.

West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, Inc. is deploying its Disaster Fleet Relief to areas in Florida for a 12-day response effort. Vehicles are filled with food and supplies for up to one million meals, along with a mobile water system.

Food banks, including those that are sustained by food and monetary donations from grocers around the United States, are providing immediate aid as well. Feeding America, for example, reported that its food banks across Florida will assess needs within their respective communities and provide emergency food, water and other resources to people impacted by Hurricane Ian. Prior to the storm’s landfall, Feeding America positioned two truckloads of disaster boxes in the state for fast distribution. In the coming days, the nonprofit group will work with several national partners to source more food donations and deploy additional truckloads of essential supplies.

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