It's no surprise that communities come together during trying times. As almost every community across the United States wrestles with the coronavirus outbreak, the nation's largest grocery retailers are stepping up in big ways.
Ahold Delhaize USA, Salisbury, N.C., this week announced a $10 million relief package to address critical needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company's local brands include Stop & Shop, Food Lion, Giant Food and Hannaford, among others, which separately announced their own giving initiatives.
Ahold Delhaize is setting aside $2 million for what it calls associate care funds, established to benefit its own employees and their families in times of need. Meanwhile, the company is donating $3.5 million in new funding to feed and care for East Coast communities, with efforts carried out by its local store chains.
Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co. announced last week its own $3 million commitment to rapidly deploy hunger-relief resources. As a part of its Zero Hunger Zero Waste Foundation, Kroger is splitting the funds between the foundation's nonprofit partners, Feeding America and No Kid Hungry, in order to support local food banks nationwide and also ensure that children still have access to nutritious meals while schools are closed.
"Nearly 22 million children rely on the meals they receive at school," said Tom Nelson, president and CEO of Share Our Strength, the organization behind the No Kid Hungry campaign. "In partnership with The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger Zero Waste Foundation, No Kid Hungry is actively funding emergency grants to food banks and nonprofit groups in the hardest-hit communities, helping families know how to find meals while schools are closed and ensuring every child has access to three meals a day."
Albertsons Cos. has also stepped up with its own initial $3 million effort. Through its Nourishing Neighbors program, Albertsons is focusing much of its first steps to support hunger relief organizations, with a particular focus on breakfast programs for kids. The Boise, Idaho-based retail chain, known for such retail banners as Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco and Acme, is encouraging customers to chip in too by making personal donations online at AlbertsonsCompaniesFoundation.org.
In similar fashion, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $25 million to supporting organizations on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart has also rallied its supplier partners—including Campbell Soup Co., Conagra Brands, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Heinz, J.M. Smucker Co., PepsiCo, The Clorox Co. and Unilever—to make their own commitments totaling nearly $30 million in cash and in-kind donations to organizations helping to meet the urgent need of food assistance. Some of the specific outreach organizations helping to distribute food and supplies will include Meals on Wheels, Mercy Housing, UnidosUS, Hunger Free American and the Food Research & Action Center.
Wholesalers Partner to Keep Supply Chain Going
The nation's two largest wholesale grocery supply companies—C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. and US Foods Holding Corp.—have partnered to combat job and food insecurities amid the pandemic’s impact on the supply chain.
US Foods, which supplies hundreds of items to its 300,000 restaurants and foodservice operator customers, has agreed to transfer and temporarily reposition much of its own personnel. The partnership will allow C&S Wholesale Grocers to alleviate its own potential worker shortages stemming from increased food retail demands, while transferring US Foods personnel to similar job functions where demand is lacking in the foodservice industry.
“We are proud to be working with C&S Wholesale Grocers as their role in our communities increases in importance,” said US Foods Chairman and CEO Pietro Satriano. “This partnership is an excellent example of the ways in which we are leveraging our distribution capabilities in new ways to support our nation’s retailers, and we value this important opportunity.”
“We are very excited about our partnership with US Foods, which will keep the food supply chain strong despite challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mike Duffy, CEO of C&S Wholesale Grocers.
Duffy said his company is taking the steps necessary to quickly onboard and train members of US Foods’ workforce, to ensure that their warehouses are staffed at capacity and so that food and supply deliveries "are on the road, enabling families access to food across the country."