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TWIG Podcast: Why Mr. George Would Be Proud of Today’s Publix

Director of communications explains how a business thrives when its communities thrive
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Publix Super Markets’ focus on helping others started with founder George W. Jenkins (affectionately known as Mr. George). For this episode of TWIG Podcast, we talk to Maria Brous, the retailer's director of communications, about how Mr. George's legacy of giving back continues in earnest today.

“I think one of the things that people underestimate when we [Publix associates] go to volunteer at food banks, or anywhere that our teams are, is the power of people committed and focused on a vision to execute and we do that flawlessly," says Maria. "Our teams are able to unload trucks and bundle food bags and sort through produce and cans. To see 75 and 100 people at a time volunteering at a location and making an impact while we're working there for several hours in a day, we are always told about how impressed people are.”

Maria says it’s not uncommon for a Publix Serves Day to have several thousand Publix associates volunteer. “At our last Publix Serves, we had close to 8,000 Publix associates that were out in the same day across our footprint and giving back to their communities, and that makes us so proud of our associates that they believe in the power of giving back.”

For example, as a grocery retailer, Publix believes that it has a responsibility to ensure that no one goes hungry. It followed through on this responsibility during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company began purchasing produce in 2020 to help struggling Southeastern farmers and provide additional fresh fruits and vegetables to its food bank partners. Four year later, Publix continues with the program. And last month, the grocer revealed that it reached an impressive milestone – donating 100 million pounds of produce in four years to Feeding America partner food banks.

As Publix continues its grow in size with new stores, it also looks for new partners in these new locations to continue to help communities thrive. Maria mentions that long before Publix opened its first store in Kentucky, the retailer was already working with Dare to Care foodbank, a Feeding America member food bank in Louisville. 

Maria also shares that Publix is planning its second Hunger Summit. The grocer held its inaugural Hunger Summit at the company's headquarters in Lakeland, Fla., on February 2023, hosting elected officials and representatives from Feeding America affiliates across the Southeast, as well as the USDA, to discuss how to work together to fight hunger. Maria shares that Publix plans to expand the conversion at its next summit by including CPGs to the conversation.

Mr. George was a big believer that when communities thrive, the business thrives. Maria says that he not only took care of the brick-and-mortar stores, he also ensured the associates and the customers in the community were taken care of, creating “a holistic approach.”

Tune into this episode of TWIG Podcast to better understand the needs of your own community and how to motivate team members in the power of giving back. (Do you prefer to watch this episode instead? CLICK HERE to view the video.)


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Progressive Grocer’s podcast focuses on the trends, topics and interests that move women forward in grocery retail. If you have an idea for a TWIG podcast topic, contact [email protected] and/or [email protected].

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