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With an increasing number of people relying on local food banks to help feed their families, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer is expanding its fresh food donation initiative with plans to bring millions of pounds of fresh food directly to families in need through local food pantries.
“As unemployment continues to challenge our economy, thousands of families are relying on local food banks,” explained Janet Emerson, Meijer’s EVP of operations. “Our expanded food rescue program allows us to help these families receive more fresh food, along with the traditional pantry offerings.”
Meijer has expanded its “fresh” food donations, including meats, cheese, yogurt, and select dairy items, to local food banks throughout the Midwest. The expansion of the grocer’s initiative to provide fresh items helps increase the total tonnage of food delivered to area food banks while making use of product that wouldn’t have been available in the past.
The Meijer fresh food donation initiative will include food banks in Detroit; Lansing, Mich.; Toledo and Dayton, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Indianapolis; and communities in Chicago’s Cook County.
This expanded food rescue program comes on the heels of Meijer’s successful “Simply Give” program, in which the company joins with its customers to generate gift cards for food pantries to use to stock their shelves. To date, Meijer and its customers have raised more than $1.1 million for local food pantries throughout the Midwest since the program began in 2008.
Meijer also partners with Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit organization that feeds children whose families qualify for the federal free- and reduced-meal program through their elementary schools. The organization provides meals for the children to take home each weekend. Meijer has provided more than 18,000 reusable backpacks, along with the food the children take home every Friday. Blessings in a Backpack currently serves more than 38,000 students.
The grocer, which operates 196 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, additionally donates more than 6 percent of its net profit annually to a broad group of charities and organizations throughout the Midwest where its stores are located. The Meijer Food Rescue Program is an important component of the company’s overall program to help feed the hungry.