CINCINNATI -- Already one of America's Second Harvest's largest donors, Kroger is helping the Chicago-based food-bank network fulfill its goal of supplying the hungry with fresh, nutritional foods.
Robert Forney, president and chief executive officer of A2H, which distributes food to 62,000 food-bank affiliates each year, said it wasn't enough to find and supply enough food for the hungry -- the organization is dedicated to supplying enough nutritional food. Last year, A2H distributed 300 million pounds of fresh produce. Kroger, based here, has become an important source of supply.
In August 2003, Kroger's King Soopers division in Colorado committed to donating 1 million pounds of fresh produce to the Colorado Food Bank Association (made up of five Second Harvest affiliates) within one year. Eleven months later, King Soopers delivered the final load.
"We have been overwhelmed by King Soopers' generosity," said Kevin Seggelke, CEO of the Food Bank of the Rockies, one of the recipient agencies. "The quality of the product was amazingly high. As a result of this program, people in need all over the state of Colorado have been able to enjoy healthy, fresh produce on a regular basis."
Kroger divisions have also begun rolling out partnerships with local food banks and food-rescue affiliates to donate meat, dairy, bakery, deli and produce items from the stores under its perishable food-donation program. While not all divisions have programs yet (due to varying capability levels of the local food-rescue organizations), the program is expected to continue expanding, the company announced.
Overall, Kroger's financial support of A2H dates back to at least 1986. Since that time, the company has donated $420,000 in cash to Second Harvest's national office. In addition, Kroger ranks as one of A2H's largest retail contributors of food and grocery products. Since 1999, Kroger has donated more than 104 million pounds of food to the organization. Its contribution of 26 million pounds in 2003, valued at $42 million, ranked as the largest in Kroger's history. The company has twice been named National Retailer of the Year by America's Second Harvest.
"Kroger's retail divisions are partnering with local food banks and food-rescue organizations to generate greater awareness of hunger-relief programs, share best practices in raising food donations, and pursue new donation opportunities," said David B. Dillon, Kroger chairman and CEO. "We hope that our involvement with Second Harvest will inspire other organizations and individuals to join the fight against hunger."
"Trust is also an important factor in our relationship with Second Harvest," said Lynn Marmer, Kroger group vice president of corporate affairs and a Second Harvest board member. "When we partner with them, we know that our donations will be handled safely and will reach hungry families."
In 2003, Kroger divisions provided $188,500 to Second Harvest affiliates through the three company foundations (Kroger Co. Foundation, Ralphs/Food 4 Less Foundation, and the Fred Meyer Foundation). This figure includes the amounts raised by Ralphs/Food 4 Less for Hunger Awareness Day. Divisions also contributed $104,500 in cash donations to affiliated food banks in 2003.
In addition to its food and cash contributions, Kroger associates serve as volunteer board members for local affiliates, and its associates donate countless volunteer hours collecting and distributing product at local food banks, the company said.