Grocery distributor and retailer SpartanNash plans to donate more than $1 million in food, supplies and financial assistance to Ukraine as the nation grapples with the recent invasion by Russia.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based SpartanNash said Thursday that its MDV military distribution division is working with humanitarian and disaster relief organization Convoy of Hope to export the products through its global supply chain network and supplier relationships and get the items into the hands of Ukrainian refugees in eastern Europe.
The product donations — including canned meat, energy bars, water and personal care items, among other offerings — are slated to start shipping next week, SpartanNash said. The company also is making a $25,000 immediate cash donation to Convoy of Hope, with the funds to be used to provide 7,500 additional meals to families fleeing the conflict. SpartanNash noted that on Feb. 26 it also ceased the procurement and sale of all Russian-produced vodka.
So far, an estimated 1 million-plus Ukrainians have crossed the border into neighboring Eastern European nations Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova and Romania since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24. Millions more refugees are expected as the war escalates and more citizens are displaced.
“As we started seeing this tragedy unfold in Europe, our team immediately sprung action to figure out what we could do to help. That’s what people-first companies do,” SpartanNash President and CEO Tony Sarsam told Supermarket News in an interview on Thursday. “We knew we had the capability and were uniquely positioned with our supply chain to actually provide some help. Our international is all military and run through one division of our company called MDV. That group spent time figuring out what they could do to broker the process to get the goods and services over to where they’re needed the most. So we jumped in with that, found a partner in Convoy of Hope and began the process of putting together container loads that we thought would best suit the needs of people struggling over there, particularly in the circumstance where they’re refugees.”
MDV SpartanNash distributes products to 160 military commissaries and over 400 exchanges in 39 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Europe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Djibouti, Korea and Japan. SpartanNash said the distribution centers are strategically located among the largest concentration of military bases in the areas the company serves and near Atlantic ports.
“We will ship directly from our Norfolk [Va.] facility specifically,” Sarsam said. “We are doing all the loads and then sending them over the ocean, and then Convoy of Hope will help us get them situated in the places they’re needed.”
Springfield, Mo.-based Convoy of Hope said Thursday that its a response team from its global headquarters is now on the ground in Poland. At least half of the more than 1 million Ukrainian refugees have taken shelter in Poland, with the rest heading to Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova. Convoy of Hope said it’s providing emergency relief with the help of partners in multiple European countries. Besides shelter, food, water, personal hygiene, health care items and financial aid are the top needs in organization’s the relief effort.
“In any crisis situation, rapid response is vital, and we are glad to partner with SpartanNash to leverage its expertise in global food logistics,” stated Ethan Forhetz, vice president of public engagement for Convoy of Hope. “Getting close to a war zone and responding during a crisis is no simple task. We rely on our disaster response experts and local volunteers to deliver hope to the impacted communities.”