Food For All Lays Foundation for Growth

FALLS CHURCH, Va. Over the last five years, Food For All has enjoyed over 10% in annualized growth, reported Larry McCurry, the retired Unilever executive who now serves as chairman of the nonprofit. Compared to the minimal growth in the food industry, McCurry said, the organization feels good about what has been accomplished in shifting from Food For All's charity model to a marketing-business model

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Over the last five years, Food For All has enjoyed over 10% in annualized growth, reported Larry McCurry, the retired Unilever executive who now serves as chairman of the nonprofit.

Compared to the minimal growth in the food industry, McCurry said, the organization feels good about what has been accomplished in shifting from Food For All's charity model to a marketing-business model that aids the hungry.

He refers to the model as “volume metric.” In other words, it's a model based upon sales and volume results at the point of sale. The model also engages all three distribution channels — retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers.

McCurry credits this model for Food For All's rapid growth over the last five years. “Not only are we doing good, but it is a productive effort for our participants,” he said.

The makeup of the Food For All board also has changed during this period, McCurry pointed out. It now includes top company executives from all three distribution channels, and he would like to see representation from third-party sales and marketing companies as well. “We're getting practical application input into the things we are doing. We're hearing from board members who are directly involved in the process and can evaluate our results.”

He also credits Denis Zegar, president and chief executive officer, for initiating and following through on these changes.

“Denis' leadership on all fronts has been key to our growth. He not only has fully engaged the practitioners of business in a business building concept, but also at the board level, he has recruited industry leaders.”

The model has gone a long way in attracting new participants for Food For All, McCurry added.

“As we focused on marketing, we have engaged more participants by being able to tie into what their charitable priorities are on the hunger front. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we take participants' priorities and assist them in helping them market in ways that get results. At the end of day, a lot of different charities are served.”

Food For All is expanding beyond its basic goal of raising funds to feed the hungry. Next year it will give more attention to youth obesity through the GoZonkers program, and to serving ethnic markets.

“The entire industry has a lot to learn in improving our effectiveness within ethnic communities. We are looking for partners to reach those communities. Those communities are sending money back to their homelands, and we want to tie in with their priorities.” McCurry said.

As good as Food For All has gotten, it hasn't begun to scratch the surface, according to McCurry.

The industry is so large and the potential is huge, he pointed out. “This whole effort is synonymous with our industry. Who better to worry about hunger and the hunger needs of the world than the grocery industry. So we [the industry] should be the best at it. There is certainly a lot of room for improvement.”