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    A Whisper of Good News

    Congratulations to FMI’s Community Outreach Award Winners.

    By Leslie G. Sarasin

    There’s general agreement that bad news blares while good news whispers.

    Our own industry experience tells us that stories about recalls will always trump tales about recycling, and articles about the ways we contribute to food waste will always outnumber articles about all of our efforts to eliminate food waste.

    In spite of the fact that the odds are against us, FMI continues to tout the good our industry does, because the supermarket’s reputation as a community cornerstone is a vibrant part of the food retail industry identity. Our good-neighbor light often shines brightest when the community is in crisis and the supermarket becomes a haven of stability in the chaos, resources in the midst of deprivation and hope in a time of desperation.

    For these reasons, FMI continues to present the Community Outreach Awards, which highlight the innovative ways our members serve their neighborhoods.

    This year, we’re recognizing six winners, a small chain and a large chain for each of three categories of programs: food insecurity, youth development initiatives and neighborhood health improvement programs. Entries were judged based on criteria including participation, community need and degree of impact. Each winner will receive $1,000 from FMI to further their programs.

    Congratulations to the winners, and our thanks to all who submitted entries this year — you’re keeping a vibrant part of our industry alive and well. Keep up the good work!

    Following are our category winners and a brief description of the winning program:

    Programs Addressing Food Insecurity

    PCC Natural Market: Shoppers contribute cash donations and reusable bag rebates to fund the purchase of bulk food, which is repackaged during bimonthly parties at 10 partner food pantries. On average, the PCC Food Bank Program annually provides almost 72,000 pounds of food.

    Hy-Vee: Created in 2002 as a new way to support a 25-year partnership with Iowa’s largest food pantry network, Hy-Vee’s program highlights the longstanding relationship by having the bakery departments from 20 of its stores participate in a special cookie promotion, designating a penny per cookie sold to support the Des Moines-area Food Pantry Network. In 2013, the program raised $5,500.

    Neighborhood Health Improvement Programs

    Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland: Through a partnership with the city of Baltimore, area nonprofits and the local police department, an event allowed citizens to voluntarily surrender guns in exchange for a a $100 ShopRite gift card. In four hours, 461 guns were exchanged for $4,610 in gift cards.

    First Alternative Co-Op: Shoppers using reusable bags were rewarded by getting to vote which charity would receive a donation from First Alternative Co-op. Over the course of the year, 16 charities received a proportional donation. Since the program’s inception in 2006, First Alternative has donated almost $80,000 to local organizations.

    Youth Development Programs

    Safeway: High schoolers from local underserved communities participate in workshops, activities and food-related experiences structured to help inspire students to achieve professional success despite life challenges. Safeway’s Career Exploration Youth Day involves 50 staff members donating a cumulative 300 hours of their time to touch the lives of 40 low-income high school students.

    Big Y Food Stores Inc.: This youth program focuses on Y-AIM: (A)chieve academically, (I)spire to attend college, (M)ove toward personal, family and community advancement. Big Y contributes human capital, participates in job placement, provides academic scholarship opportunities and offers financial support of more than $340,000 to help sustain Y-AIM.

    Full profiles of our winners are online at www.fmi.org.

    By Leslie G. Sarasin
    • About Leslie G. Sarasin Leslie G. Sarasin is the president and CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

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