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At full operational capacity, Dollar General aims to provide up to 20 million meals annually in the communities it serves, nearly double the number of stores in which Feeding America services.

Dollar General leverages retail footprint to tackle food insecurity

Feeding America partnership dovetails with effort to offer fresh produce in up to 10,000 stores

To address food insecurity, Dollar General is donating $1 million to Feeding America and partnering with the hunger relief organization to provide millions of meals and more fresh food to communities nationwide, in line with the retailer’s plan to carry fresh produce in up to 10,000 stores.

Dollar General said late yesterday that, in addition to the monetary donation, its work with Feeding America will include in-kind donations of perishable and nutritious food to community food banks. At full operational capacity, the deep discount retailer aims to provide up to 20 million meals annually in the markets it serves, nearly double the number of stores in which Feeding America services.

The partnership will enhance Feeding America’s rural hunger initiatives by providing more food donations to 95% of member food banks, according to Dollar General. The Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based chain said it aims to support underserved communities with food resources through its more than 17,400 stores in 46 states. About 75% of the stores serve communities of 20,000 or fewer people, the company noted.

“Food insecurity impacts communities across the country, and given that Feeding America projects that 42 million people may face hunger as a result of the pandemic, we want to be part of the solution for those facing this issue,” Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said in a statement. “With our extensive store footprint, often in communities others have chosen not to serve, Dollar General is uniquely positioned to help combat hunger by offering convenient access to a variety of nutritious foods at affordable prices.

“Our work with Feeding America builds on these efforts by providing in-kind donations of perishable foods to help nourish and feed those in need,” he added. “Together with Feeding America and local community food banks, we look forward to making a measurable impact in the fight against food insecurity.”

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Dollar General now offers fresh produce in more than 1,300 stores and plans to have added fresh fruit and vegetables to 1,000 locations by the end of this year.

About 75% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Dollar General location. While the stores focus primarily on general merchandise, the retailer pointed out that its offerings also include the components of a nutritious meal, such as milk and dairy, bread, frozen and canned vegetables, canned fruits and grains, among other products.

Smarter meals are a focus as well. In the DG Better For You meals program, Dollar General has partnered with a registered nutritionist to provide healthier recipes for each meal of the day with items sourced from the chain’s stores. Also, the Good & Smart private label offers healthier, affordable consumables options to customers.

Currently, Dollar General offers fresh produce in more than 1,300 stores, and this year it aims to bring fresh fruit and vegetables to 1,000 locations, up from the previous projection of 700. The retailer said its stores offer the top 20 items typically sold in supermarkets and roughly 80% of the produce categories carried by most grocers.

When reporting fiscal 2020 results in mid-March, Dollar General Chief Operating Officer Jeff Owen said the company envisions offering fresh produce in as many as 10,000 stores over time via DG Fresh, its program to shift to self-distribution of refrigerated and frozen consumables. Those locations will include “a meaningful number of stores” located in areas defined as food deserts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dollar General noted.

“Each year, billons of pounds of food go to waste, while millions of Americans face hunger. Feeding America is grateful to Dollar General for ensuring that good, wholesome unsold food gets to people who need it most. We are also grateful for their generous donation of $1 million, which will help provide meals to children and families in rural communities,” stated Claire Babineauz-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America.

Dollar General said it initially began testing food donations with Feeding America last summer in several Indianapolis and Atlanta-area stores, and the company recently expanded its donation footprint to its DG Fresh cold storage facilities. In 2020, Dollar General’s donations provided more than 2 million meals to those in need.

Besides weekly collections, the partnership will provide opportunities for Feeding America and local food banks to collect food items during times of crisis, Dollar General added. For example, when Hurricane Zeta impacted an Atlanta-area Dollar General store in October 2020, Feeding America and its partners at the Atlanta Community Food Bank collected food items and distributed them to the community, the retailer said.

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