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Bhavdeep Singh, EVP, New Formats and Chair of Our Family Foundation, discusses Ahold USA's robust platform to enhance its Better Neighbor strategy.
Ahold USA’s Our Family Foundation is a key element of the company’s philanthropy, according to Bhavdeep Singh, EVP, new formats and chair of Our Family Foundation. “It gives us a platform to enhance our Better Neighbor strategy,” he says, noting that, collectively among all of its divisions, the company has given $67 million to charities this year. Most of these efforts focus on hunger (47 percent of all giving), children (31 percent) and building healthy communities (22 percent).
“Being a better neighbor in the communities we serve is critical to our broader effort of getting better every day,” affirms Singh. “Our efforts support work to relieve hunger year-round in the Ahold USA support organization and in the Ahold USA divisions. This is why the core Fighting Child Hunger grants are supplemented by volunteer grants that support regional food banks based on associate volunteerism.”
The foundation itself has disbursed $13 million so far this year:
- Through its Triple Winner campaign, $5.6 million will be donated to support pediatric cancer research and care at local hospitals in the Stop & Shop and Giant Landover operating areas. This includes the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and the Children’s Cancer Foundation. Since 1990, the Ahold USA divisions have raised more than $80 million to fight childhood cancers. “That’s huge,” Singh remarks. “It’s a feel-good moment for us that we’re doing so much for children.”
- $3.2 million will be donated to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals throughout the Giant/Martin’s market to assist in providing medical care and lifesaving research for children. A supporter of local children’s hospitals for nearly two decades, Giant/Martin’s is one of the top 10 fundraisers in the country for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.
- Local YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs will receive $250,000 as part of a three-year grant cycle focused on teaching youth the importance of healthy eating and wellness. “It’s about teaching kids about living healthy lives,” Singh says.
- A $500,000 donation will support the Jake Gittlen Cancer Research Foundation, in Hershey, Pa., to continue funding groundbreaking cancer research.
- As part of the second year of the three-year Fighting Child Hunger grants, nearly $3 million was donated to more than 20 food bank partners to serve 10 million meals to underserved children.
We Built a Playground
As this issue went to press, Ahold USA and divisional executives, associates and community leaders were pitching in to build a much-needed playground for children in Bridgeport, Conn., just the latest of such magnanimous projects. “When the day is done, you say to yourself, ‘Wow, this is pretty great,’” Singh says. “It’s not just something we support, but we believe in passionately. We have a tremendous legacy of giving. It’s astonishing, the stories you’ll hear among the divisions.”
Asked what he’s most proud of as an Ahold USA employee, Singh recounts a recent occasion on which he was walking down a corridor at corporate headquarters and overheard discussions in two separate meetings being held in adjacent rooms, one on budgets and other on giving programs, with equally passionate debates taking place in each. “You’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart,” he recalls.
The company also has excelled in coming to the public’s aid during natural disasters and other emergencies, such as when Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast in fall 2012.
“Our divisions stepped up in a big way,” Singh says. “We were approving things left and right [on a corporate level], but that was just a small part of it. Store managers stepped up and took the initiative to do things on their own. We have countless stories about what people did. We had store managers letting people stay in their homes.”
“When there’s an opportunity to step in, we shine,” Singh says. “I don’t have to ask a store manager, ‘Would you mind helping?’ They’re five steps ahead.”
Our Family Foundation is becoming an ever-increasing piece of Ahold USA’s Better Neighbor strategy, Singh says, noting that it’s just the framework upon which legions of dedicated associates step up each and every day.
“We’ve left enough room for store managers to pick up the ball and run with it. … To have both going is powerful, and that’s what makes us so great,” Singh says. “It’s the culture that exists around giving and thinking beyond yourself. There is so much passion … ‘How do we do more?’ … It’s as important as being a better retailer.”
While the Our Family Foundation is a key element of Ahold USA’s overall Better Neighbor strategy, Singh points out: “It’s only one aspect of our longstanding commitment to philanthropy and corporate citizenship. Each of our divisions has their own legacy around community engagement, but they all share the following” commitment to serve customers and communities:
- Supporting community organizations, and improving the quality of life in the neighborhoods where associates live and work
- Supporting community organizations through a combination of financial support, product donations, sponsorships, volunteer efforts and United Way
- Strengthening communities through leadership and associate engagement, including volunteerism, nonprofit board service, and lending skills and expertise to nonprofit partners
“Through the foundation, we are able to make a difference in our local communities by fighting hunger, improving the lives of children and building healthy communities,” says Singh. “It has enabled us to continue to build on our [Better Neighbor] commitment.”