Local Supermarkets Help Fight Hunger

Robert Sondak
Spare Change News

The September 2011 U. S. Department of Agriculture Household Food Security Report showed that 1 in 10 Massachusetts households lacked the food resources necessary to provide adequate nutrition for all people at some point in the past year. The U.S. Census 2010 Report showed that 245,000 households (or 600,000 people) living in Massachusetts had difficulty providing food for themselves.

In response to this, two major food retailers with branches in Massachusetts have created community programs to help fight hunger. A regional Maine-based food retailer, Hannaford Supermarkets, has implemented a three-part community program called Hannaford Helps Fight Hunger at its 26 Massachusetts stores over the holiday season. Texas-based chain Whole Foods has developed a program that allows the company to contribute 5 percent of the Cambridge district sales to designated non-profits. They also have a national children’s program.

Hannaford Helps Fight Hunger runs from October through New Years Eve. Two parts of this campaign were created to deliver food directly to food programs, while the third part allows a customer to donate money at the cash register from November 30th up until New Years Day.

As of October 30th, Hannaford Helping Hands allows customers to purchase a box of basic hot and cold food staples and have it delivered to their local food pantry. For $10, the Helping Hands boxes include basic essential foods that most American families can use: oatmeal, peanut butter, green beans, tuna fish, macaroni and bread. With every purchase, a participating customer will receive a coupon book.

Hannaford’s Buy One, Give One program will be in effect from November 30th up until New Years Day. Buy One, Give One means that for designated items purchased by customers, the company will donate similar items to the local area food bank. On specific days, customers can trigger donations by purchasing particular Hannaford brand products.

Between Nov. 30th and New Years Day, Hannaford customers can also make a direct money donation at the point of sale cash register to their state or local food bank. Hannaford’s will give a coupon book to each customer making a donation.

The Worcester Community Food Bank is one of Hannaford’s central Massachusetts community partners. Jean G. McMurray, executive director of the WCFB,
elaborated about her work with Hannaford.

“The Worcester Community Food Bank is participating in the Hannaford’s Helping Hands Program. This program is helpful in our efforts to provide food to our network of 150 partner agencies including food pantries, meal sites, shelters, individuals and families,” said McMurray.

Eric Blom, external communications manager of Hannaford, said that the Help Fight Hunger program is a community collaboration between three groups: customers, Massachusetts service providers and the 26 local branch stores. Blom pointed out that Hannaford recognizes that hunger is a year-round problem and requires that they work with partner agencies year round. He went on to say that the company tries to recruit new food partners throughout the year. Blom added that the company is proud of the fact that customers have donated over a quarter of a million dollars at the cash registers, and also 308,000 boxes of goods to local food programs in need.

Whole Foods is also an active participant within the local community. Every year, they give a minimum of 5 percent of their profits to a wide variety of community and non-profit organizations. This program is set on a specific day and is held quarterly throughout the year. This program supports organizations that work in community related issues, from hunger relief to environmental concerns, animal rights to welfare and social services. The program’s focus is to support innovative groups with small budgets under $1 million and that work to make their community better.

The Cambridge stores sponsor a variety of local nonprofit organizations to participate in the 5 percent day. Over the past three years, Whole Foods has sponsored two major Cambridge nonprofits, Heading Homes and CitySprouts. Heading Homes is a local organization which provides housing services to homeless men and women. In Cambridge, they run a drop-in women’s center that provides meals to women. CitySprouts runs community gardens at all of the Cambridge public schools and facilitates outdoor garden classroom learning along with teacher training.

Whole Foods also has a new nationwide holiday campaign working with children and hunger. This campaign was developed with Share Our Strength, a nationwide hunger organization which provides cooking classes and seminars for families with children. In this program, customers can go online to donate or purchase gift cards for donation. Whole Foods will also provide food coupons that can be redeemed in stores, and corporate donations from in-store fruit purchases.

ROBERT SONDAK is a Spare Change News writer and vendor.

Nadia Nalesnik, 11, was the Massachusetts winner for Hannaford’s recent design contest focused on supporting food drives. Her illustration will appear on reusable bags in spring 2012.

Robert Sondak is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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