ELIZABETH, N.J. -- Wakefern Food Corp. and its suppliers are proving that when it comes to fighting hunger, wholesalers are also stepping up to the plate.
Wakefern, which services 192 ShopRite stores in five states, will continue its year-round ShopRite Partners In Caring program in 2005. Established in 1999, Partners In Caring raises money for America's Second Harvest affiliates from the sale of specially labeled products.
The products are identified with special shelf tags that read, "Choose this brand and you support our fight against hunger. Thanks!" About 70 manufacturers participate in the program, including General Mills, Coca-Cola, Dasani, Kraft, Nabisco, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Progresso, Procter & Gamble and Unilever Bestfoods.
"It was in 1999 when we decided to take our commitment to fighting hunger to the next level," said Thomas P. Infusino, chairman and chief executive officer of Wakefern Food. "Our ShopRite Partners In Caring program has built a consortium of hope and touched thousands of lives throughout the communities we serve by providing much-needed financial support."
"As the name infers, our ShopRite Partners In Caring program has forged a partnership between manufactures, the food banking community, over 1,400 worthy, hunger-fighting charities, and our own associates to ensure that the plight of the hungry in not forgotten," he added.
The year-round program generated $1 million in its first year, and about $2 million in each subsequent year, for a total of $9 million. Each store selects local charities to support and disburses money to those charities. These local charities -- over 1,000 in all -- use their funds to purchase supplies at America's Second Harvest affiliate food banks. The beneficiaries of the program include emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, childcare centers, battered women's shelters, senior programs, drug rehab centers, programs for the mentally and physically disabled, and after-school programs.
Last year, ShopRite involved its associates even more by holding a contest to create the most eye-catching display for National Hunger Awareness Day. As part of the promotion, associates also raised money in-store by selling scannable $1 donation forms at checkout. The effort generated $98,000 from consumers (and another cash contribution from General Mills), and associates from the 25 top-performing stores were featured alongside NASCAR driver Jeff Green on a limited-edition Cheerios box specially created by General Mills.
"We've been supporting our regional food banks for more than two decades," Infusino said. "America's Second Harvest and their network of regional food banks provide a much needed lifeline for the 35 million Americans who depend on them. We're proud to lend our support in the fight against hunger and congratulate them on the advent of their 25th anniversary."