FICAH'S NEW OUTLOOK

The Food Industry Crusade Against Hunger is moving into its second decade of existence, and is getting ready for its biggest revenue-building event of the year: the in-store, point-of-purchase consumer-donation program based on bar-coded coupons. This year's program runs Oct. 27 to Jan. 4.FICAH is one of several programs designed to partner with retailers in a bid to glean funds to be devoted to the

The Food Industry Crusade Against Hunger is moving into its second decade of existence, and is getting ready for its biggest revenue-building event of the year: the in-store, point-of-purchase consumer-donation program based on bar-coded coupons. This year's program runs Oct. 27 to Jan. 4.

FICAH is one of several programs designed to partner with retailers in a bid to glean funds to be devoted to the alleviation of hunger. FICAH is national in scope, and has as its guiding premise the presumption that hunger can be cured best if people have the capacity to feed themselves. In keeping with that outlook, one of the programs the organization underwrites in less-developed countries features the "living loan" of farm animals to a group. Animals' offspring then are used to give more animals to other groups, forming a self-perpetuating chain. FICAH also helps sponsor a number of domestic projects related to agriculture.

This year's POP fund-raising program is going to be a little different, as is symbolized by the fact that the program's name has been changed. For the past eight years, the program has been called the Consumer Sharing Program. This year's effort will be dubbed Neighbors Helping Neighbors: The Food Industry Campaign Against Hunger.

"The name of the program was changed when we became concerned that the CSP characterization didn't really convey much of anything to supermarket shoppers, nor did it suggest that a large percentage of funds collected stays in the same communities from which funds are generated," Michael Donkis, FICAH's president and chief operating officer, told me.

Indeed, he said, a higher percentage of funds collected this year will be put to work. A new matching grant from Philip Morris means that administrative costs will be held to 5% of funds raised. In recent years, the debit-coupon program raised more than $1 million, with costs of administration at about 10%. This year's program is expected to raise a similar sum. Half the funds collected this year will go into local programs designated by participating retailers; 45% will be disbursed by FICAH in support of domestic and overseas programs. Actually, efforts will be made this year to bolster the program's public profile, and that may boost collections. Here's how: Last year in Miami, public awareness was generated by way of a nightly mention of the activity on a local television news broadcast. Additional publicity was generated by radio programs and print articles.

A similar publicity campaign is to be waged in nine media markets this year: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, Atlanta, New Orleans and, again, Miami.

"The promotions won't be aimed at building the name of FICAH, but at underscoring what specific participating retailers are doing in support of local communities," Michael said. "If retailers are that generous, they deserve recognition."

This year's campaign will also have the backing of the National Food Brokers Association, which will ask member brokers to go into stores to help set coupon boards at the front end, and to help with their maintenance. In all, there's plenty of reason for the program to win retailers' support this year. Some 6,000 are expected to do so. Will you be among them? If not, call 800-307-3237 to learn more.