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SETPEMBER 6, 2005 -- One week after Hurricane Katrina's fury was unleashed on the Gulf Coast region -- leaving thousands homeless, hungry, and worse -- retailers continue looking for ways to help. Several companies late last week were sending truckloads -- and even planeloads -- of product to local relief agencies and needy refugees, while many more are jumping in to collect customer donations for American Red Cross and other organizations.
"Mini Wal-Marts" Planned
Wal-Mart said on Friday it planned to donate $15 million to jumpstart the national fundraising effort being led by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. As part of its commitment, the retailer is also setting up "mini Wal-Marts" in the hurricane zone, providing items such as clothing, diapers, baby wipes, food, formula, toothbrushes, bedding, and water for free to "those with a demonstrated need."
Retailers Speed Direct Help to Gulf Coast
Berkeley, Calif.-based Grocery Outlet said Friday that its president and c.o.o. Bob Tiernan, a National Reserve Commander, has initiated an emergency transport delivery of food supplies for Katrina disaster victims. With the Idaho National Guard's help, a plane was chartered to make the trip from the Portland Airport on Friday afternoon, heading to the Naval Air Station in New Orleans with food supplies donated by Grocery Outlet. The donated supplies included 20,000 bottles of water and 27,000 cans of pasta, and represented meals for up to 25,000 people.
Additionally, all 124 Grocery Outlet Stores will be collecting cash donations for relief efforts.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based supercenter operator Meijer, Inc. sent three semi-trucks loaded with ready-to-eat food, ready-to-feed baby formula in bottles, bottled water, and juice to the International Aid hub in Rolling Fork, Miss., where they were to be unloaded to smaller trucks and sent directly into the neediest areas of Mississippi.
"We have a temporary operation center staffed with a five-person International Aid relief and assessment team," said Myles Fish, president, International Aid. "We are working in conjunction with local church volunteers. Our efforts are based in a church parking lot and auditorium where people can come to get food and supplies and, if necessary, use the site for housing. From that site, we operate in conjunction with the military and local police to be escorted into the areas where direct food and supply distribution can begin."
Tyler, Texas-based Brookshire Grocery Co. said on Friday it is matching up to a quarter of a million dollars in cash and food donations to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
"It is heartbreaking to see a natural disaster hit your neighbors and leave so many homeless, which is why we have already given away more than 20 trailer loads of ice, as well as other cash and food contributions -- and we will continue," said Mark Brookshire, president of the marketing group.
Scan coupons will allow Brookshire customers to add $5 to their grocery bill at the check-out lane with 100 percent of the donations going to the American Red Cross, specifically designated for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The emergency donation campaign was expected to be effective in all Brookshire's, Super 1 Foods, Ole Foods, and ALPS Foods stores by this weekend.
Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway has launched a company-wide fundraiser to benefit hurricane survivors. The Safeway Foundation has delivered an initial check for $100,000 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and will match employee contributions to the relief organization. In addition, the company will donate 10,000 American Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Kits that contain blankets, flashlights, first-aid supplies and other necessities. Each of the 17,000 check stands at the company's 1,802 stores in the U.S. and Canada also will be used to collect donations.
Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu has made an immediate donation of $50,000 to the Red Cross, and is also delivering water, food, and other critical supplies to the Gulf Coast region. In addition, Save-A-Lot currently has four trucks routed to the region loaded with approximately $800,000 worth of critical supplies and headed for emergency shelters.
Supervalu operates both food distribution centers and retail stores near the affected region, and is working closely with state and local officials there to help deliver the most-needed supplies to relief workers and refugee shelters, as well as potentially provide logistics support.
"As a food company operating in the region, we are uniquely positioned to provide critical assistance in the upcoming months. We will remain committed to working with local agencies to determine how we can best continue to aid in relief efforts as the situation unfolds," said chairman and c.e.o. Jeff Noddle.
Food Lion, its employees, and vendor partners also are pooling resources to donate and transport two truckloads of ice, one truckload of water, and one truck of food supplies to the Convoy of Hope hurricane relief center in Picayune, Miss. In addition, Food Lion also has donated and dispatched two truckloads of water from the Silver Springs water company in Florida to the hurricane relief center in Picayune.
Food Lion said Friday it will make a $250,000 donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, in conjunction with sister supermarket companies Hannaford Bros., Kash n' Karry/Sweetbay, and Harveys, all members of Delhaize America.
Helping New Neighbors
Salt Lake City, Utah-based Associated Food Stores is gearing up to help 1,000 displaced refugees from coastal Louisiana who are temporarily calling Utah home. Employees at the grocery wholesaler's corporate office are collecting monetary donations, as well as toys to be distributed to children among the refugees.
Meanwhile, Associated Food Stores is also pitching in for hurricane relief by donating non-perishable goods to the affected areas. Its retail members are placing boxes in their stores to encourage customers to get involved, too.
Winn-Dixie Operations Update
As of last Thursday, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. said it had 153 ongoing operating stores in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Of these, 98 stores were operating with full power. In addition, 18 stores were operating with generator power and primarily selling non-perishable merchandise. The company has 37 stores in the impacted areas that are currently closed, including 33 stores in Louisiana, and four in Mississippi.
Winn-Dixie said a number of its stores that have sustained significant physical damage would be affected for a long period of time. The retailer said it maintains insurance coverage for windstorm, property and flood damage, and business interruption, and expects to be adequately covered for losses due to the hurricane, although it is difficult to predict the amount or timing of any insurance recoveries at this time.
Meanwhile Winn-Dixie is aiding the area's recovery efforts by working with local authorities and agencies to transfer non-perishable items to where they are most needed.
Fundraising Campaigns Grow
Stop & Shop and Giant Food, both divisions of Ahold USA, are collecting customer donations to go to the American Red Cross and America's Second Harvest. They are also collecting donations from associates at their main offices and distribution facilities.
Other retailers now accepting donations for the American Red Cross include Redner's Markets in Reading, Pa., Colton, Calif.-based Stater Bros., and Boulder, Colo.-based Wild Oats. Price Chopper, based in Schenectady, N.Y., is selling Red Cross pins through September to raise money for American Red Cross relief efforts.
Higher Poultry Prices Loom; Tyson Makes Donation
Amid reports that it will likely be months before farms and production facilities in the U.S. Gulf Coast states fully recover from Hurricane Katrina, food analysts and commodity boards are warning consumers about higher poultry prices.
Prior to the storm, higher gasoline prices were already predicted to have impacts on chicken production costs, with the increases likely passed on to consumers.
As of Thursday, chicken companies were still collecting damage reports from farms and processing plants. Mississippi produces about 10 percent of the nation's chicken and much of that production was in the storm's path.
Agriculture economists are now projecting lapses in production that will likely take weeks or months to reestablish. Eleven Mississippi processing plants were shut down during the storm, many of which are ready to start up once electricity and water are restored, the National Chicken Council said.
At least one major poultry company is pitching in for hurricane relief efforts. Tyson Foods, Inc. and its team members will donate up to $1 million in food and financial aid to relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Springdale, Ark.-based company said last week.
Tyson is providing truckloads of pre-cooked and shelf-stable meats and will match team member financial donations dollar for dollar. The contributions will go to assist the relief efforts of the Salvation Army and American Red Cross.
Tyson has already donated food for relief efforts in Forest and Vicksburg, Miss., where the company operates poultry plants, and has also sent a truckload of product to Jackson. The company is also sending three truckloads of bottled water to central Mississippi. In addition, Tyson is providing food and a truck to transport a mobile kitchen for a disaster relief group that will be preparing meals for displaced people who have taken refuge in Prairieville, La.
NACS Show Relocated to Las Vegas
NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) said Friday it was informed that New Orleans will not be able to host its upcoming trade show, so its NACS Executive Committee unanimously approved the relocation of the NACS SHOW 2005 to Las Vegas on Nov. 15-18. More information is available at http://www.nacsonline.com.