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The Kroger Co., ShopRite and Frito-Lay were recognized this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for leadership, innovation and education efforts to feed hungry people, protect the environment, and save money through food recovery.
Participants of the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge, Kroger was named winner in three categories: Leadership, Innovation, and Education and Outreach. EPA also named as a Corporate Winner Supermarkets of Cherry Hill, ShopRite; Facility Winner, Supermarkets of Cherry Hill, ShopRite: Marlton Supermarkets Inc.; and Facility Honorable Mention, Supermarkets of Cherry Hill, ShopRite: Union Mill Road, Mt. Laurel.
Frito-Lay also earned accolades as the Mid-Size Business Partner of the Year from the EPA, which recognizes the accomplishments of organizations and businesses participating in its Food Recovery Challenge and WasteWise program for reducing their climate footprint, improving efficiency, helping communities and achieving cost savings through waste reduction, all of which save money, protect the environment and feed the hungry.
“In 2013, EPA's Food Recovery Challenge participants diverted more than 370,000 tons of wasted food from entering landfills or incinerators," explained Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "Of this total, more than 36,000 tons of food was donated to feed people in need, which equates to nearly 56 million meals. I commend the efforts of our award winners and encourage others to follow their lead by joining the Food Recovery Challenge. These leaders demonstrate that protecting the environment, saving money and feeding the hungry can go hand in hand.”
EPA presented 23 awards to Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers in two categories: data-driven and narrative. The data-driven award recipients achieved the highest percentage of wasted food diversion and prevention. The narrative award winners excelled in areas of source reduction, leadership, innovation, education and outreach, and endorsement.
In addition to grocers, Food Recovery Challenge participants include educational institutions, sports and entertainment venues, and hospitality businesses. Participants are not only benefitting their bottom line, they are reducing hunger through innovative community partnerships.
"Kroger is proud to be part of the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge, and honored by this recognition," said Suzanne Lindsay-Walker, Kroger's director of sustainability. "While all of our associates play an essential role in our food recovery operation, our retail operations team in particular deserves credit for bringing that program to life in all of our stores. We remain committed to finding solutions to reduce food waste, because it is good for business, our communities and the environment."
As part of the company's food recovery strategy in grocery stores, Kroger's Perishable Donations Partnership is responsible for the equivalent of 38 million meals of healthy, perishable food donated to local Feeding America food banks to help feed hungry families last year.
Kroger's retail operations team has implemented an organic recycling program in 1,000 stores across the country. This program utilizes composting and animal feed to limit the amount of food going into landfills.
Cincinnati-based Kroger was the first major retailer in the U.S. to develop a clean energy production system that converts food that cannot be sold or donated into clean energy. The facility provides a quarter of the power needed to run the company's Ralphs/Food 4 Less distribution center in Compton, Calif.