Industry Partners

Grocery Sector Continues to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Wakefern, Hershey and Safe-Strap chip in face masks; retailers rally their customers
Smart & Final
Photograph courtesy of Smart & Final

The grocery sector continues to step up in the wake of the coronavirus and the battle against its impact on the economy.

Brookshire Grocery Co. is one of a few retailers rallying its customers to further support relief efforts with their own small contributions. The Tyler, Texas-based retailer is matching all customer donations up to $500,000. The company said its immediate goal is to raise as much as possible in the next week to assist people at risk of food insecurity. 

“We care about our neighbors, and as a community, we can join forces to lessen the impact of COVID-19,” said Brad Brookshire, the company's chairman and CEO. “We know our neighbors are in need right now and that the food banks are seeing increased demand for resources in all of the communities we serve. Our company continues to be committed to supporting our communities and helping give hope to those at risk.”

Smart * Final Dodgers

Photograph courtesy of Smart & Final

Brookshire also said this week that more than 150 food banks across Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas have received their first donation checks, and that their initial $1 million commitment constitutes 8 million meals donated to food banks in its operating area. 

In the St. Louis area, Schnuck Markets Inc. teamed up with United Way in an effort very similar to Brookshire's. Schnucks' “Round Up at the Register” campaign encouraged customers to round up their grocery orders at checkout to make a donation to United Way to support those experiencing hardships because of COVID-19. Of the funds raised, customers donated $225,400, and Schnucks is donating an additional $24,600. 

Free Groceries for Seniors, First Responders 

In Los Angeles, Smart & Final teamed up with the company's favorite sports team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, to take part in helping its everyday customers. On April 23, from 6 to 7 p.m.—during an exclusive hour for seniors, expectant mothers, people with disabilities, healthcare workers and first responders—the Dodgers and Smart & Final paid for groceries for all shoppers at the Smart & Final store in Watts, Calif.

“It’s more important than ever that we come together as a community to support and bring a bit of joy to one another,” said Deb Bell-Versluis, director of corporate communications and the Smart & Final Charitable Foundation. “We are grateful to our partners at the Dodgers for their generous offer to surprise Smart & Final shoppers in Jordan Downs with free groceries. We value our relationship with this neighborhood and are excited to continue working with the Dodgers to give back to the communities in which we live and serve.”

It's not the first collaboration between the retailer and the back-to-back National League champions. Smart & Final also recently donated 10,000 bottles of water, 500 bags of apples and 500 bags of oranges, through the Smart & Final Charitable Foundation, to the Dodgers Foundation to assist with their efforts helping the Los Angeles Unified School District's Grab & Go Food Centers.

PPE for Front-Line Workers

The Hershey Co. announced that it is committing $1 million to efforts to help safeguard healthcare workers and others on the front lines. Specifically, Hershey, one the world's biggest chocolate brands and confections makers, said the funds will be allotted to acquire, install and staff a new manufacturing line dedicated to the production of face masks.

“Supporting our communities in difficult times is part of our legacy, and an important value that our current employees share,” said Michele Buck, president and CEO of the Hershey, Pa.-based company. “From the building projects that created local jobs during the Great Depression to producing military rations during World War II, we take great pride in making a difference where we can.”

Hershey is leveraging its relationships with equipment manufacturers such as JR Automation and General Motors to address the nationwide shortage of protective equipment. The personal protective equipment (PPE) will be finished and distributed in May.

Smart & Final Dodgers

Photograph courtesy of Smart & Final

A similar effort comes from the Safe-Strap Co., best known for manufacturing the child safety straps seen on shopping carts throughout North America. Safe-Strap said Monday that it is sending the majority of its production workers home with machines to manufacture face masks, which will be produced at no cost to healthcare facilities in need.

“All of our products over the years have been designed to help people, that’s why we were founded. So the decision to change over our production to help our great nation in a critical time of need was an easy one," said Paul Giampavolo, president and founder of Wharton, N.J.-based Safe-Strap. Giampavolo also notes that his company has gotten generous donations of fabrics and other materials necessary to construct face masks, but credits Safe-Strap's workers. “Our ability to pivot from restraints to masks could not have been accomplished without our stitchers, who have years of experience," he said. "Their dedication and can-do attitude, along with everyone in the company, is amazing to witness.”

Joining in on a similar effort, Wakefern, the retailer that operates supermarket banners ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace and The Fresh Grocer, has also made PPE part of its donation. In early April, the company donated respiratory protective masks to New York and New Jersey hospitals in order to provide much needed protection to medical personnel. 



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