FOOD BANKS SEEK RETAILERS FOR DONATIONS

CHICAGO -- America's Second Harvest, the Chicago based hunger-relief organization, will be launching an effort this month to enlist national grocery retailers in the crusade against hunger. The program, called the Grocery Alliance, asks retailers to donate unsaleable food products of which they have control to the America's Second Harvest Food Bank. Private label products will play a large role in

CHICAGO -- America's Second Harvest, the Chicago based hunger-relief organization, will be launching an effort this month to enlist national grocery retailers in the crusade against hunger. The program, called the Grocery Alliance, asks retailers to donate unsaleable food products of which they have control to the America's Second Harvest Food Bank. Private label products will play a large role in the program.

According to Martha Pickett, chief operating officer and vice president of programs at America's Second Harvest, the campaign builds on the charitable activities that supermarkets have been supporting at the local level for years. As the trend toward consolidation continues, the program aims to take advantage of emerging national players while providing retailers with an opportunity to emphasize their community presence.

"The vast majority of people who come to the food banks for help will become consumers again and they will remember who helped them during their difficult time," said Pickett. "By putting the store brand on the can, retailers let the public know that they are still the local store. They still care about the community."

Employees at America's Second Harvest's food banks are trained in salvage handling in order to protect donors and their private label brands.

Pickett hopes to secure commitments from three national retailers over the next 10 months and said some national chains are already working with America's Second Harvest on similar projects. Safeway has been donating private label products from reclamation centers for some time, she said.