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    Kroger’s Loss is Zoo’s Gain in Produce Donation Program

    The Kroger Co. has agreed to donate produce to Indiana’s Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo to help defray the zoo’s annual food bill, which can reach $300,000.

    The Kroger Co. has agreed to donate produce to Indiana’s Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo to help defray the zoo’s annual food bill, which can reach $300,000.

    The program was unveiled Friday as the zoo honored the charitable involvement of Cincinnati-based Kroger and its Scott’s Food and Pharmacy banner, according to local press reports.

    Kroger’s Central Division, based in Indianapolis, is implementing a nationwide Perishable Donation Partnership that supports 20 regional food banks and one major food resource organization, the company said. As an extension of that plan, the zoo will receive produce from some area stores — produce that’s fit for human consumption but that isn’t selling or, for some reason, can’t be donated to a food bank.

    Much of the food is surplus or products no longer for sale in the store, according to Kroger spokesman John Elliott. Restrictions on what food banks can take in sometimes limit what Kroger can donate, Elliott explained.

    A similar pilot program at a zoo in Peoria, Ill., cut food costs 50 percent annually, according to Kroger.

    Meanwhile, Kroger Scott’s Zoo Day 2010 last month raised more than $67,000, according to local press reports. Kroger donated 3 percent of sales from 19 Kroger and Scott’s stores, which totaled $50,000. Kroger customers also could donate during a week in May by rounding up their bill or giving cash or change, netting an extra $17,505.

    In appreciation of the grocer’s 20-year support of the zoo, the Indiana Family Farm exhibit was dedicated in honor of Kroger and Scott’s.

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