Publix Super Markets tapped an influential spokesman to elaborate on the details of its new 10-year plan to double down on its efforts to alleviate hunger in the communities it serves throughout its seven-state Southeast footprint.
CEO Todd Jones took to The Publix Checkout—which houses blogs and podcasts featuring company experts on a variety of topics—to share a first-hand rundown of the company’s expanded commitment to eradicate food insecurity with an additional $2 billion in food donations over the next 10 years, committing to $4 billion by 2030.
Jones isn’t formally introduced by his full name until 3 minutes into the segment, prior to which he shares his “Publix story,” including snippets of his 40-year career with the Lakeland, Fla.-based retailer that began as a bagger in 1980 and took off from there as he worked his way through the ranks.
The impetus for Publix’s expanded commitment to alleviate hunger was sparked by insights from Feeding America, which finds that 1 in 8—or 9 million—Americans in the Southeast do not have enough food to eat. “Every time I hear those numbers,” Jones said he finds himself asking, “How can we at Publix help solve this?”
The propensity of Publix's 1,237 locations provides a ready-made answer. “Food is at our core; it's what we do," Jones said. As a leading food company, “we have a huge responsibility, obligation and opportunity to really look at how all the food that is still wholesome ... but not salable,” he said.
It’s equally important, he added, to determine that “we’re doing the right thing to make sure that food is getting to the right places and is really helping the communities that we operate in.”
The recent announcement about doubling its commitment to food donations speaks to a guiding mantra of Publix founder George Jenkins, Jones said. “Mr. George always said that giving was the only way to receive and that a vibrant community was the only way we at Publix will be successful,” he said.
In the past 10 years, Publix has donated more than $2 billion worth of food for hunger relief organizations, which Jones said equates to about 470 million pounds of food, including dairy, deli, meat, produce and fresh-baked goods, to people in need.
Looking ahead, the company is now pledging an additional $2 billion of food donations over the next 10 years to organizations to help relieve hunger. “It’s a commitment but one that we’re going to be passionate about” making happen, Jones said.
During the podcast segment, Jones also discussed the importance of the company’s processes and procedures it has in place for its food recovery program, for which Publix associates gather foods that are no longer salable for collection to donate to more than 100 Feeding America member food banks and other nonprofit organizations.
Educating and communicating with Publix’s family of 205,000 employees companywide about the procedures of unsalables “is extremely important for associates to understand how that process works,” Jones said, while affirming his belief that as a food retailer, alleviating hunger is the single biggest opportunity it has to influence change for good in the communities the chain serves.
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