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    Neighbors for Life

    In recognition of the Better Neighbor promise not just espoused, but embraced, at all levels of the organization, Progressive Grocer honors Ahold USA and its divisions.

    By Meg Major, EnsembleIQ
    Ahold USA COO James McCann and EVP of Operations Mark McGowan serve ice cream to patients and families at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

    When times get tough ? as they often do ? there?s simply no substitute for good neighbors, who instinctively surface at just the right time with a welcome meal, a helping hand and a caring heart.

    Those same traits are what inspired Progressive Grocer to present Ahold USA and its divisions with its highest annual honor as the 2014 Retailer of the Year, a recognition bestowed chiefly for its vast and exceptional philanthropic contributions provided to the numerous communities served by its regional operating divisions: Stop & Shop New England, Stop & Shop New York Metro, Giant Landover and Giant/Martin?s.

    Serving millions of customers in some of the nation?s most densely populated and competitive geographic corridors, Ahold USA operates roughly 770 supermarkets in 14 states ? from Massachusetts to Virginia under its four sister divisions, each with its own support business, along with the online grocery and delivery leader, Peapod. Accounting for an estimated 60 percent of its Dutch parent?s sales, Ahold USA, led by COO James McCann, is carrying out a broad array of activities to fulfill its directive to deliver on an aggressive Reshaping Retail crusade while working to preserve the heritage of its local brands, with a strong focus on reinvesting in value, service and quality, alongside an expansive omni-channel blueprint to meet shoppers? needs both today and in the future.

    McCann is humbled and gratified by PG?s Retailer of the Year honor, which comes nearly two years into the company?s aforementioned Reshaping Retail strategy, at the core of which is a trio of interconnected promises ?we make to our customers, our associates, and the communities and neighborhoods where we operate: to be a great place to work, a great place to shop and a great neighbor.?

    Far more significant than an admirable catchphrase, Ahold USA?s Reshaping Retail framework ?defines our strategic ambitions, how we operate and what we want to be as a company,? McCann notes. ?It speaks to our common set of values across all our businesses, and a shared vision for the future.? While the formal strategy was originally announced in early 2013, he continues, ?the commitment dates back much longer than that at each of our operating divisions, which share an enormous legacy of being a good neighbor.?

    While being a good neighbor is satisfactory, becoming a better neighbor is superior, maintains McCann, and also critical to the company?s broader ?good-to-great effort of getting better every day,? which includes parallel investments in its customer and value offering to make its stores better places to shop.

    The ongoing good-to-great journey, explains McCann, is rooted in an aggressive aim ?to strive as hard as possible to make our stores the best places possible to shop. We know we?re not going to become a great retailer unless we?re also a great place to work, and a great neighbor in the communities which we serve and where we live. Every single one of our divisions has been a key player in their communities, and has continuously found ways to give back.?

    And though the programs, acts and deeds may vary within each division, ?the central philosophy is very, very similar, and a core part of what we do,? he maintains.

    Since his arrival, the British-born McCann, 45, has focused closely on strengthening Ahold USA?s e-commerce proposition and customer loyalty programs. He joined Ahold as chief commercial and development officer in September 2011 after spending more than 20 years with some of Europe?s largest retailers, including Carrefour France, where he was executive director and a member of the group executive board. He has also held top roles at Tesco, including leadership of some of its most successful markets, among them Hungary, Poland and Malaysia, and before that worked for Sainsbury, Mars and Shell. He was appointed to Ahold?s management board in the spring of 2012, and a year later assumed his present COO duties.

    When asked about his observations on the company?s greatest strengths and leading points of difference, McCann, with 18 months of stewardship under his belt at the time of the interview, says he can?t help but marvel at Ahold USA associates? bigheartedness, which surpasses anything he?s ever before seen. ?I?ve worked on three continents and in 10 countries, and I?ve never seen a company?s community engagement more profoundly embedded in its DNA than what exists in the divisions of Ahold USA,? he asserts.

    We are Family

    Especially meaningful was the 2012 unification of disparate divisional foundations that had existed during the early phase of Ahold USA?s transition, into the formation of Our Family Foundation. In 2014, the divisions and the foundation donated an astounding $67 million to local organizations committed to fighting hunger, improving the lives of children, and building healthy communities, thanks to its associates, vendors and customers. Cognizant of the essential, important role the company?s family of stores plays in bringing to life Ahold USA?s Better Neighbor promise, McCann shares his colleagues? pride in the various initiatives focusing on the key areas of healthy customers, healthy kids and healthy communities.

    In addition to its core anti-hunger mission, Ahold USA and its divisions are committed to improving the lives of children throughout the communities they serve. Through its Our Family Foundation, the company combined these two missions and accelerated the urgency to do everything possible to alleviate childhood hunger by reaching more food-insecure children with healthy meals. In early 2013, the foundation embarked on a three-year initiative to distribute $9 million in Fighting Child Hunger grants as part of its larger aim to provide 10 million meals to underserved children by 2015.

    Until the Reshaping Retail plan was formally launched, McCann says, ?I don?t think everyone understood how important it was. But I believe the simple framework enables everyone to understand where it fits into our overall journey, and why it?s so important that we continue to become stronger as a better neighbor.? Not taking lightly ?all the work that goes on in every single store each and every day,? McCann heartily applauds the ?massive engagement of associates and customers, who last year helped? generate millions of dollars to aid local residents. ?That?s a big number, and it?s gratifying to know that it?s been used for causes that make our communities stronger and better.?

    To Have and to Hold

    McCann is particularly fond of the focus the Our Family Foundation ?has brought to the causes that we put most of our money into? ? notably children?s nutrition and pediatric cancer research, care and rehabilitative programs ? which he says has been nothing short of ?exceptional. To know that we are able to make a difference with a child?s understanding of what good nutrition is early in their life, or having a massive impact on the ability to fund treatment, care and research for sick children ? in some cases for the rest of their lives ? is remarkable,? and something McCann steadfastly champions.

    Accordingly, he draws inspiration from the company?s 120,000 associates, who bring the Better Neighbor promise to life at the local level, headed by four division leaders: Joe Kelley, president, Stop & Shop New England; Don Sussman, president, Stop & Shop New York Metro; Gordon Reid, Giant Landover?s president; and Tom Lenkevich, president of Giant/Martin?s.

    The divisional leaders have spearheaded and maintained a commitment to their numerous neighborhoods ?for many, many years,? McCann notes, ?but we?ve been very humble about it. For that reason, we are very grateful and very proud to accept and share Progressive Grocers Retailer of the Year award with every member of our staff, which symbolizes all of the great work they do on behalf of the communities we serve on a daily basis.?

    Healthy Commitment Runs Deep

    Indeed, giving back to the communities is a cornerstone instilled by the founders at all of the Ahold USA divisions, which together operate roughly 770 supermarkets and 200 pickup points in 14 states, along with Peapod, the company?s online grocery shopping/delivery service.

    Says Giant Landover President Gordon Reid: ?From hunger relief efforts to helping improve the health of our communities? youngest residents, we are committed to doing all that we can to be a better neighbor through product and financial contributions, as well as volunteering our time.? While the Maryland-based division?s core areas of giving have long included anti-hunger, education, and health and wellness, it has also in recent years expanded its support of programs and initiatives for members of the military and their families.

    Last year, Giant Landover?s monetary and in-kind contributions for all community relations efforts across Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Virginia; and Delaware exceeded $13.3 million. ?We are very proud of our longstanding philanthropic programs, including our annual September Hunger Action Month campaign to support local food banks, and our school fundraising through our A+ School Rewards program, which has raised a total of $90 million for over 2,000 local schools,? notes Reid. ?We also support the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the Children?s Cancer Foundation through our Triple Winner program to benefit pediatric cancer research.?

    Charitable giving roots run equally deep at Giant/Martin?s, whose president, Tom Lenkevich, similarly affirms the Carlisle, Pa.-based division?s ?long commitment to feeding the hungry and helping children in our local communities,? a mission that starts ?with our associates in the stores. They make it all happen,? says Lenkevich. ?It?s just tremendous to see the enthusiasm of our store teams, who are the foundation of our efforts.?

    In addition to working with hundreds of local organizations to help raise the ?healthy communities? bar, ?we constantly ask ourselves, ?How can we help bring good health to those around us? What more can we do??? Lenkevich notes.

    As his division is one of the top 10 fundraisers in the country for local Children?s Miracle Network (CMN) hospitals, Lenkevich is especially gratified by Giant/Martin?s special relationship with its local hospital affiliates.

    Don Sussman, president of the Stop & Shop New York Metro division, is also ?enormously proud to be part of the team that is forcing pediatric cancer to retreat.? In place for 26 years, ?Triple Winner has become a campaign that has saved lives, created research paths and provided genuine hope to families waiting for a cure,? says Sussman. ?There is now a proud and growing Triple Winner family of young people who have a bright future because we have been able to put dollars into cancer research. I can?t think of a better reward for everyone who continues to make this campaign a success.?

    Storm Centers

    When it comes to community engagement, no single event supersedes the impact created by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. ?This was far beyond anything we had experienced in our lifetimes,? affirms Sussman, a Long Island native who?s intimately familiar with many of the hardest-hit areas. ?Conditions in many communities were desperate, and in many places the local grocery store was the only place to get food.

    ?That said,? Sussman continues, ?we lost power in 120 of our 182 stores. Beyond that, we had four totally flooded stores, which we managed to reopen in 10 days. I can?t tell you how proud I was of our people, who worked around the clock for the six weeks after the devastation of Sandy to help minimize the hardships of others. And in many cases, our own associates and their families were enduring many hardships of their own.?

    McCann is also astonished at associates? instinctive willingness to unfalteringly answer whatever call comes their way, including the above-and-beyond post-Sandy efforts, which produced ?a great sense of satisfaction for all involved. Throughout this company, we have a vast number of people for whom the good work is deeply embedded,? says McCann, noting that it?s a virtually ?effortless process? to assemble the troops and resources to spring into action. ?It just happens, and we see it every time there?s an opportunity for our associates to step up.? In the devastating aftermath of Sandy, he recalls: ?Our associates were feeding neighborhoods and providing water, and other desperately needed electricity and other services. Nobody told them to do it; they just took it upon themselves. And we see the same thing in small, medium and large ways all the time. Whenever our associates see the need or opportunity, they are unequaled? in their readiness to respond.

    For his part, Stop & Shop New England President Joe Kelley also never ceases to be amazed by the charitable efforts displayed by his division?s family of associates, be it through time or monetary and/or food donations, ?which has and always will be a top priority for us as a company.?

    That?s an especially important cause worth celebrating in 2014, when Stop & Shop is commemorating a truly significant milestone: its 100th anniversary. ?It also marks an achievement that would not have been possible without the dedication of our associates and our customers pushing us to succeed over the past 100 years,? during which time ?we?ve operated our business with a single goal in mind: delivering unmatched selection, quality, value and service. I?m proud to say that commitment continues,? notes Kelley.

    For Ahold USA to remain responsive, relevant and successful, he adds, ?We need to continue to test and deliver innovations that enhance a customer?s shopping experience,? the central ingredient of which is the company?s talented teams. ?In my experience, investing in people ? giving them the training and encouragement, and offering honest feedback ? is, far and away, the best investment you can make. There is no substitute for motivated people who feel part of a team, with a common mission.?

    ?Centerpieces of the Community?

    Discussing the extraordinary support that Ahold USA?s divisions and Peapod provide for the communities in which they operate, Tracy Pawelski, VP, external communications, describes the stores? central role as that of ?centerpieces of the community. The relationships we have with our customers and the communities as a grocery store is very different than other retail establishments, which don?t see customers as frequently. Our story is built on the legacy of our brands, and part of being a better neighbor means being there for our customers, associates and communities.?

    And though many may not realize the full scope of Ahold USA?s divisional philanthropic efforts, Pawelski believes, ?Customers today want to know that they?re doing business with a good corporate citizen.? While shoppers in its marketing territories readily associate the company?s retail banners? messaging of ?great prices, great places to work, and great places to help shoppers find affordable, healthy choices for their wellness goals,? Pawelski affirms the company?s commitment to building close community connections ? be it at the grass-roots, local level with cake donations, or by undertaking massive relief efforts to help rebuild communities after catastrophic events ? is enduring.

    And so it goes with the rapid changes within the industry, which McCann describes as ubiquitous and intense. ?It?s no secret than the industry is changing more quickly now than it has in earlier years,? he notes, an evolution compounded by the onslaught of formats now selling groceries. ?Our plan is to become a great retailer in other formats as well,? including digitally, with the Skokie, Ill.-based Peapod division, as well as with smaller-format stores, plans for which McCann and company are studying ?closely, to explore and test what might work well for us.?

    While McCann says that ?no concrete plans at present? have been mapped out for an Ahold USA-brand small-store concept, he confirms: ?We?ve got a very good R&D team behind it, gearing up for tests and trials to see if there?s something out there that we want to develop and deploy. We believe that we have the people, the brands, the store locations, the infrastructure and the financial resources to be able to do it, which is truly a part of what our good-to-great journey is all about.?

    Becoming Famous

    In his ceaseless quest for innovation, McCann is pumped about the possibilities of the Peapod online retail division, which reached a number of key milestones by the end of 2013. After opening 200 pickup points and a digital innovation hub in Chicago, Ahold USA continues to accelerate its online growth.

    While Ahold USA is decidedly further along with its e-grocery platform than many, McCann says that continued ?speed and development is necessary in order to stay ahead.? Online retailing is one of the three areas ?we want to become famous for. We truly want to become better than everyone else in the markets where we compete.?

    In addition to digital retailing, McCann has related aspirations to make the company ?famous? across a broader spectrum with upgraded [products, paramount to which is produce, ?which welcomes customers into stores at the entrance and which is often the primary reason people come shop. It?s also because it?s a product category that people really interact with and have strong feelings about.?

    The third leg of Ahold USA?s ?famous? aspirational stool rests on private label, not only as it pertains to the obvious better-margins component, but also because of its greater affordability for customers and its expediency as an ideal learning platform. However, according to McCann, the biggest single advantage with private label ?is that it?s exclusively available in the stores. We want customers to enjoy our brands, stores, people and products so much that they do all of their shopping with us and recommend us to others.? In turn, he adds, ?We must continue to strive to develop an even better, more relevant assortment to meet customers? daily needs, with a broader range of products and services, including new and innovative own-brands products.?

    Health on an Accessible Shelf

    As it strives to become a great place to shop, whether in stores or online, another priority for Ahold USA is helping its divisions provide customers with a variety of health-and-wellness resources so they can make healthier choices for themselves and their families. McCann cites the Healthy Ideas on-shelf labeling program, developed by the company?s in-store nutritionists, which covers thousands of national and private brands sporting blue-and-green shelf tags to help customers identify healthy and ?free-from? options.

    People are increasingly becoming more interested in the provenance of product, and the companies that produce it,? explains McCann, ?as well as [foods?] nutritional and allergic aspects.? He notes that 49 percent of households ?have somebody with a special dietary requirement. Whatever we can do to make it simpler and more affordable for families to eat well is critical in our Better Neighbor mission.?

    So, too, is the expansion by its retail divisions of an in-store nutritionist program, which has been recently enhanced to emphasize the integration of the pharmacist and nutritionist. The first in-store nutritionist came aboard in 2005; several divisions now plan to deploy more nutritionists by 2015. ?They?re wonderful people that lend a whole new dimension to stores,? McCann says, noting their integral role in the company?s Passport to Nutrition health-and-wellness program, which uses various interactive tools to teach children about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. The program provides student workbooks that highlight small changes kids can make, such as building a balanced plate with appropriate portion sizes and learning how to read food labels.

    ?Nutrition is not the same when you?re 20-something, versus when you?re 40-something. Understanding how your body?s needs change over time, and those of your family, as well as when diseases or intolerances are diagnosed,? requires a whole new skill set when food shopping, McCann acknowledges. ?Nutritionists provide a service that helps customers stay healthy and live longer, happier lives. And hopefully, they?ll reward us by coming in to shop with us.?

    McCann brings a palpable sense of urgency, and equally evident fervor, to his marshaling of the company?s vast talent, resources, infrastructure and energies ?to do more for customers than anyone else. Our divisions are in local communities where associates live, and they are absolutely a part of the neighborhoods that we operate in. So, when you look at how to become a great retailer, we believe it?s just not possible without first being a great neighbor, along with being a great place to work and a great place to shop. This is absolutely the foundation of a fundamental journey that we are on. And by putting it into these three simple promises,? everybody can understand the importance? of the mission at hand, he asserts.

    ?Customers tell us that the three things they want from us are to be able to save money, save time and feed their families well,? explains McCann. ?When they come into when they come into Stop & Shop or Giant, they are looking for that bundle of things, and the reason we put these promises forth is that we have a measure of how we are doing against them. And if we do those three things better than anyone else, which is the goal, then customers will shop with us because they like ? and increasingly, hopefully love ? what we offer, in the way that we offer it. That?s our entire purpose, and we know that if we?re succeeding on all the above, we can reinvest money back into banners, and ultimately, the customer proposition.

    ?I feel very proud about our associates and the work that they do,? McCann concludes, ?and our grass-roots involvement makes all the difference.?

    Playing to Win

    ?We are a group of associates who really like to win,? declares Kathy Russello, Ahold USA?s EVP, human resources, ?but it takes teamwork to make it happen,? the required ingredients for which consist in equal parts of ?bringing the right people together; having a healthy respect for differences of opinions, thoughts and perspectives; and a willingness to share.?

    An accomplished leader for more than 30 years, Russello ? who earned distinction as a PG Top Woman in Grocery in 2011 ? is a self-described ?passionate believer in the retail supermarket business? and a strong advocate for people from all ranks of the company, each of whom is central to Ahold USA?s Better Neighbor promise. Leading the company?s efforts ?to ensure we?ve got the right people in the right roles and to empower them with the capabilities to propel growth,? Russello oversees the full scope of Ahold USA?s human resources support functions, with a singular focus: ?to foster a culture of people development and growth.?

    Russello?s supermarket roots run deep. Beginning her career in store operations for Mayfair Supermarkets, she joined Ahold in 1995 as part of the human resources support team for the New York division of both Edwards and Stop & Shop. Throughout her career, she has taken on progressively challenging leadership positions within human resources and labor relations, which has in turn given her a deep understanding of and appreciation for the broad range of career opportunities.

    Russello is a big believer in investing in associates? careers by offering growth opportunities, training and development programs that bring out their best. ?We?ve got a family of companies that have been around for a very long time, and I?m really proud of that,? she says, noting that the retail banners? longevity ultimately reflects on its stellar associates. ?We?ve got a number of people who have worked for each of our different companies for many, many years. They followed in the footsteps of other generations who?ve worked for the company, so our heritage is truly about our associates, who take such good care of customers. We have centuries of experience, and our people are driving us forward.?

    Another interesting aspect of Ahold USA?s heritage, Russello adds, is its loyal customers. ?I knew many of our customers on a first-name basis, and I know the same is true for so many associates. We often like to think it?s about great products, prices and services,? she continues, and these are undoubtedly important. ?But it?s really about the trusted relationships store associates have with customers.?

    When talking about the grocery industry as a place to build a career, Russello applauds the many diverse and rewarding paths it offers to existing employees seeking advancement, as well as to prospective job candidates. Ahold USA?s divisions, she reports, ?have done a great deal to do promote the industry as an employer of choice,? particularly in the past five years, during which time Russello has seen a surge of interested applicants from outside the food industry.

    She notes, ?Our employer brand is changing, and people are coming in from other industries,? in many cases via word-of-mouth referrals from friends and co-workers. ?People are seeing the real opportunities, for a few good reasons, including that we are competitive, with very good salaries and great benefits; we reward and recognize great performance.?

    Equally important, she continues, is that aside from retail management, a career at an Ahold USA company provides people with the chance to grow in careers across a multitude of areas, including merchandising, finance, human resources, legal, IT, operations, marketing, real estate, construction management and supply chain. ?Our companies are also doing lots of interesting things focusing on digital marketing,? Russello says, adding that the field has attracted talent from top universities, ?who are sharing their knowledge and skills to help us drive the digital advancements? currently underway company-wide.

    These successful employer-of-choice objectives also dovetail well with its Better Neighbor promise when seeking and recruiting new employees, and promoting from within. ?People give a lot of time to a company, and they want to be proud of their employer. And when candidates learn about the vast amount of time, money and effort our divisions contribute to supporting the communities where we work and live,? Russello says they can?t help but be impressed. ?It?s clearly one of the biggest selling points from a human resources perspective for attracting interested candidates.?

    Follow the Leader

    When asked what advice she would give to aspiring grocery industry leaders, Russello says that ?a general trait we?re looking for in anyone, regardless of the position, is someone who is a strong leader. You have to have someone who can focus on associates, and someone who is passionate about customers and delivering the best. Those are the kind of people that are most successful, because they are inspiring leaders. They might not know everything about retail, but if they?re passionate about food and their fellow associates, their passion is contagious, and sparks a fire under their team.?

    In turn, fired-up teams are best equipped for job one, which Russello says is ?taking care of customers.? And it takes just ?a simple ingredient to make it happen: engaged associates who make it a better place to work and a better place to shop. If you engage and inspire associates,? she affirms, ?they?ll run through walls for you, and will become as loyal as the day is long by giving 100 percent.?

    Russello is deeply proud of Ahold USA?s embrace of diversity as a natural extension of its role as part of a dynamic global workforce, whose employees live in several countries and serve customers from every walk of life, every day. ?Diversity and inclusion are valued at every level of our organization and are integral parts of our business culture,? she explains. ?We work hard to foster an environment where all employees can demonstrate their abilities, skills and experiences,? she says, ?and where they can realize their full potential.?

    Diversity Paves Way for Success

    To that end, Russello continues, ?We engage all associates and seek out their valued feedback, to ensure we?re focused on doing all that we can to take advantage of our diverse pool of associates, who are very willing to share and teach and help us continue to grow.?

    The company?s business resource groups, dedicated to female and multicultural associates, among others, provide a formal opportunity to network, learn and share experiences with one another, in addition to enabling the company and its divisions to better develop its training procedures, which, Russello says, ?demonstrate the value of giving each other different perspectives to enhance the understanding of people?s needs in the various communities we serve.

    ?We spent lots of time and focus on diversity initiatives, and will continue doing so on an ongoing basis, because our success is paved directly by our diversity efforts,? Russello asserts, citing the intrinsic importance of stores and associates mirroring the communities they serve. ?We otherwise wouldn?t have authenticity in products, assortment or connections with our customers, and it really comes down to understanding the specific needs of a store,? which she says is best accomplished by attuned associates.

    Considering Ahold USA?s next generation of leaders, Russello says that people who can adapt to and withstand the rapidity of change ? abilities that rank high among the company?s foremost priorities ? are best positioned to succeed. ?The companies that are going to succeed are in the forefront working to stay one step ahead. I think we do really well in this regard, because we take nothing for granted. We have a healthy dissatisfaction for status quo. We?re proud of what we?ve done, but we?re also humble because we know we can get better.?

    A Family of Better Neighbors

    A hold 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.?

    Miracle Workers

    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.?

    Better Neighbor?s Road to Zero Waste

    Jihad Rizkallah, VP, responsible retailing for Ahold USA, has a healthy appetite for zero waste. Accordingly, he?s been pivotal in setting the aggressive agenda that?s driving the company?s corporate responsibility commitment. ?It fits with our [Better Neighbor] promise,? says Rizkallah, the key building blocks of which are ?also part of our commitment to caring for the environment, and the health of the communities we serve.?

    In tandem with one of its Our Family Foundation?s primary missions of eradicating hunger is Ahold USA?s waste reduction effort, which leads with a bold goal to reach zero by 2020, ?meaning at least 90 percent of our waste is diverted from landfills and incineration to other uses,? Rizkallah explains. This includes the expansion of organic recycling programs, and the identification of new opportunities for recycling cardboard and plastic.

    To wit: Ahold USA divisions have to date reduced the number of disposable bags by 447 million, compared with the 2011 baseline, says Rizkallah, who notes the company?s wider goal of upping that number to 1 billion bags by 2015. The company is also working with cashiers and baggers to further reduce the number of bags used by ensuring they?re properly filled, which he says is one of the single best ways to encourage customers to curtail wastefulness.

    ?We?re big on energy conservation across the company,? Rizkallah declares. The company?s commitment to reducing its total carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2015 is ?a primary tenet of Ahold USA?s main corporate responsibility priorities, and ? helps us minimize our impact on the environment while at the same time making operations more efficient,? he adds.

    Without question, Ahold USA?s demonstrated, ongoing commitment to the communities and neighborhoods its stores serve on a daily basis, coupled with its pioneering leadership in the green building movement, is vividly evidenced by a variety of environmental leadership accolades, including recognition by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the eighth-largest green-power purchaser among retailers, as well as No. 7 on EPA?s Top 20 retail list and No. 30 on its national Top 50 list of green-power purchasers. According to EPA, Ahold USA?s green-power purchasing is equivalent to eliminating the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 20,000 passenger vehicles per year, or pulling the plug on the electricity usage of nearly 13,000 average American homes annually.

    Its eco-minded diligence, notes Rizkallah, has enabled the company to purchase more than 149 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually via renewable energy certificates (RECs) and self-generated green power from its on-site renewable energy systems. Since 2008, Ahold USA has been developing its renewable- and clean-energy portfolio, which includes roof-mounted solar photovoltaic systems and a fuel cell project at a Stop & Shop in Torrington, Conn., which consumes natural gas to produce electricity and waste heat. The electricity generated provides 95 percent of the store?s annual electricity requirements, and the waste heat offsets the gas consumption required to heat the air and provide hot water for the store.

    Nurturing the Promise, Powering the Charge

    Further evidence of the company?s continuing quest to illuminate its green cred can be seen in six of its recent stores having earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Ahold USA ranks as having the largest number of LEED-certified stores among U.S. grocery retailers, with more to follow.

    ?We have made, and continue to make, major investments in renewable energy sources,? says Rizkallah, who?s leading the charge to further lighten Ahold USA stores? energy loads with LED lighting, energy-efficient refrigerated cases and other eco-friendly retrofitted equipment, all of which netted $41 million in electricity savings in 2013. He also spearheads related grass-roots action in stores via ?mini conservation initiatives that encourage everyone to play a role. We?re looking at healthy communities from all aspects,? affirms Rizkallah, an architectural engineer by training who?s a natural fit for his influential and wide-reaching role.

    Despite these achievements, when asked about the significance of the impressive strides Ahold USA has taken in its eco-conscious approach, Rizkallah is the picture of modesty: ?We?re not doing these things for publicity or awards; we genuinely believe it?s just the right thing to do.?

    Fare Well

    Being in the food industry provides a built-in advantage for Ahold USA to make a real difference in the health and well-being of its customers and associates. As such, John MacDonald, director of Giant/Martin?s marketing and external communications, is ardent when discussing the company?s health-and-wellness prowess in general, and its in-store nutritionist program specifically, which he believes is not only ?a noble goal, but something which I also think is very unique and special.?

    A self-proclaimed ?passionate advocate? of Ahold?s in-store nutritionist program, which took wing in 2005 at Giant?s then ?test-bed? Camp Hill, Pa., store, MacDonald notes, ?The program?s evolution from then to now is incredible ? we?ve taken it from one to five, then decided to really invest in it to become community leaders, with 10 certified, licensed nutritionist professionals.? Current plans call for more than 20 more by 2015. ?Any hospital facility would be happy to have them on their staff, and our customers are taking great advantage of their services and expertise,? MacDonald says, adding that this in turn translates to loyal customers.

    As he works to foster and expand the in-store nutritionist program, which includes personalized plans, aisle-side consultations, store tours and classes, MacDonald observes: ?One of those obvious things realized when it?s pointed out is that when you?re talking about health, wellness and nutrition, there?s really no better place to do that than in a grocery store ? where hands-on education and interaction can take place, which is tremendous for our customers.?

    From its Carlisle, Pa., headquarters, Giant/Martin?s operates nearly 200 grocery stores, which are ?really building on health-and-wellness needs throughout the entire store. It?s an extremely important piece of our Better Neighbor promise,? affirms MacDonald, noting that the chain?s supermarkets provide a variety of resources to help shoppers make healthier choices for themselves and their families. ?And it?s not just about helping those with special dietary needs,? he adds, but also storewide wellness assistance that all customers can access.

    Having recently enhanced Giant/Martin?s wellness program to emphasize the integration of the pharmacist and nutritionist, MacDonald says the new scheme allows the teams to ?build personal, one-on-one relationships with customers and associates,? to help them discover new and creative ways to incorporate healthy foods into their diets. Giant/Martin?s independent, self-funded nutritionist program ?focuses on the individual needs of customers, who increasingly want choices? about what to eat when striving to maintain a healthy lifestyle, he notes, with even snack foods and cookies included ? when consumed in moderation, of course.

    In addition, as part of its leadership to connect parents, caregivers and kids to important nutrition and wellness information, MacDonald notes that Giant/Martin?s is seeing tremendous success with its popular Kid Healthy Ideas magazine and companion Passport to Nutrition program. First introduced in 2010, Passport to Nutrition is an engaging, interactive program designed to provide kids with the necessary tools to learn about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, both at home and school. Striving to make the topics compelling for kids, the free Passport kits include a robust set of materials covering such topics as food labels, portion control and hydration.

    The kit provides teachers with a turnkey food fand nutrition program that allows them to easily craft a curriculum around healthy eating,? explains MacDonald. ?All we ask is that they contact us to let us know what they need, and we send it right out.?

    Giant/Martin?s also offers free Kid Healthy Ideas store tours that provide teachers, parents and troop leaders a fun and interactive way to help teach children how to make healthier choices and reinforce nutrition curricula taught in local schools. At last count, more than 17,000 youngsters have taken part in a total of 985 tours held at participating stores. ?The ability to have personal nutritionists educate kids through schools in a classroom setting, or during a live store tour, helps children look at things completely differently in the supermarket,? a prospect MacDonald finds extremely rewarding as the father of three teenagers.

    Party On!

    A new twist on Giant/Martin?s nutrition outreach, which began last year and has seen great success, is the advent of Twitter parties, which are fast-paced virtual gatherings using the social media platform. Typically lasting from one to two hours, these events provide ?a fantastic way for people to interact and discuss a nutrition and wellness topic of choice on a very casual level? with expert hosts, MacDonald asserts.

    The monthly parties spark connectivity with in-store shoppers through ?live shout-outs? over the stores? public address systems. ?The response has been tremendous,? according to MacDonald, who notes the ?instantaneous feedback from social media? generated by the events.

    ?The personalized, credible information is reaching tens of thousands of people, if not over 100,000,? he says. ?Customers? needs and interests are changing rapidly, and if they have a problem or need guidance, they take it [to social media,] which allows us to respond as quickly and appropriately as we can,? MacDonald observes. ?So our ability to adapt to how people increasingly want to get their information is really gaining emphasis in building connections with our customers.?

    Since the decision to eat healthfully often begins in the supermarket, MacDonald pledges, ?We?re committed to doing all that we can to help people to make healthier choices, especially kids.?

    A Better Way to ?Meat the Needs?

    As part of the company?s strong commitment to supporting hunger relief and improving the lives of children, a centerpiece of Giant/Martin?s Living Here, Giving Here program is its Meat the Needs frozen meat donation program, which since its inception has distributed more than 3 million pounds of meat, which would otherwise go unsold, to its regional food bank partners. ?Ten years ago, that meat was going right to the dumpster. Sad but true,? notes Christopher Brand, manager, public and community relations at Giant/Martin?s, based in Carlisle, Pa.

    Piloted in 2011 with 16 Harrisburg, Pa.-area stores and one district with 10 stores in Philadelphia, Meat the Needs is a consumable food taskforce put together to redirect unsold food to regional food bank partners. Most retailers have a day-old bread program for out-of-code stock, but Meat the Needs takes that practice a dramatic step further.

    The program?s focus is on providing protein, a challenging and expensive product for food banks to provide their customers. Key partners in the program are the Harrisburg-based Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Philadelphia?s Philabundance.

    The major issue addressed through the pilot program was food safety and training, ensuring that Giant/Martin?s meat associates and managers kept the cold chain intact. Managers pull the meat ? including poultry, beef and pork ? just ahead of expiration. The meat is scanned for donation and placed in the freezer. During the pilot, a food bank refrigerated truck would arrive at the grocery store once a week to take receipt of the meat. However, Giant/Martin?s has since taken on the additional responsibility of delivering frozen meat to the food banks.

    Innovative and Incredible

    The burden ? including costly fuel, trucks and people resources ? of visiting multiple stores to pick up meat has been removed from the food banks. Weekly, as the Giant/Martin?s perishables team drops off fresh product, it also takes receipt of meat to be donated, returning it to the distribution center, where it?s palletized and sent out to major food banks. This move reduces the amount of handling and makes it easier to keep track of product.

    Giant/Martin?s President Tom Lenkevich describes the program as nothing short of incredible. ?We?re always looking for innovative ways to help the community,? he says, and Meat the Needs is a textbook example. ?All it took was a little will, and we found a way. It?s so gratifying to provide thousands of meals to neighbors in our local communities who may otherwise go hungry,? Lenkevich says.

    Making a Difference at the Local Level

    ?We?re making a difference in our communities,? says Brand. ?We?re fulfilling our mission, and we?re fulfilling the expectations of our customers, who know us as a good community steward. They?ve been terrific and loyal to us. It?s our obligation to listen to them and do good for the community.?

    Today, all 200 Giant/Martin?s stores are engaged in Meat the Needs. ?Our mission is to eradicate hunger and improve lives of children,? says Brand. ?Grocery is a noble business, and bringing fresh, affordable food to communities is important. We equally feel that helping our less-fortunate neighbors, those who go to food banks, is part of this mission.?

    Meat the Needs continues to grow throughout Ahold USA?s four divisions. The program currently supports 25 regional food banks. Like other giving initiatives, including the Bag Hunger Campaign and the annual November turkey drive ? known as Turkey Express in New England ? the company reinforces its community focus. ?If people are donating at the register to Bag Hunger, they know the money stays local,? Brand says. ?We live here and we give here.?

    Encouraging Strengths, Nurturing Careers

    Building on strengths and exploring new opportunities ? that?s the core of career development at Ahold USA and part of what equips PG?s Retailer of the Year with the talents and skills it needs to excel in a highly competitive marketing area.

    The company encourages associates to constantly review their performance and personal goals ?to make sure they?re aligned? with district and corporate goals, says Larry Jones, human resources manager for Ahold USA Region 9. ?Reassessing performance constantly, compared to the goals, keeps us focused and performance-driven. Associates are challenged to evaluate what they?re contributing to the company and challenge their teams to do the same.?

    Twice a year, in spring and fall, associates complete surveys to assess their progress. Reviewed by teams of associates, the surveys pinpoint each employee?s top three strengths, which they?re encouraged to continue and hone, and top three opportunities for improvement. Store performance is similarly assessed. ?We empower department heads to run their departments like their own businesses,? Jones says. Aiming to drive business on all levels, department heads ?challenge each other? and share ideas, he adds. The mutual learning process makes them ?feel empowered to get the best results.?

    So what makes Ahold USA a great place to work?

    In addition to ?competitive? wages and benefits, it?s the opportunities for enrichment and advancement, Jones says. ?I make it clear we have lots of opportunities ? whatever your passion or background, there?s a position in our organization,? he asserts. ?We?re going to challenge them to grow their leadership qualities.?

    He continues: ?Every career path is as unique as the individual who works for us. ? We identify what their strengths and opportunities truly are, and help them reach their end goal. We spend a lot of time with associates gauging where they?re at and revising goals as needed, working on what they need to be a better leader. They?re involved at every step; we don?t just tell them what to work on.?

    Among the ways in which Ahold USA has shown its appreciation for its associates was to boost its employee discount to 10 percent as part of 100th anniversary festivities for the Stop & Shop banner. All 395 stores in the chain served cake to ?celebrate and say thank you? to associates and customers, Jones says. Certain store-brand products sported commemorative packaging, associates and support personnel wore 100th-anniversary pins and aprons, and posters displayed in stores documented the journey of the company over the past century.

    Additionally, the company marked the milestone with 100 Days of Giving, during which the grocer donated $1,000 each to 100 organizations between Memorial Day and Labor Day, delivering giant checks along with cake and balloons in decorated vehicles to each group. ?These organizations are doing great work, and we love to partner with them,? Jones says.

    A 20-year company veteran who started as part-time grocery clerk while in college, Jones ?never thought it could be a career,? he says of grocery retailing. ?My store manager took an interest in me, which was different from everywhere else I worked. He talked to me. He listened to me. That sort of attention helped me see myself as an important part of the team. ? I felt like I contributed to the overall goal of the company.?

    Jones worked his way up to full-time general merchandise clerk, and then to assistant store manager and store manager, before attaining his current post. ?I?ve always felt important and listened to ? that?s what makes this company feel like a family,? he says. ?I don?t think that happens in every organization.?

    His duties include conducting exit interviews with retirees, among them the associate who brought him into the organization: ?It was great to sit with the store manager who hired me 20 years ago and talk about our experience.?

    Daring to Care

    Anne Demchak, store manager at the Stop & Shop on Whalley Avenue in New Haven, Conn., may have been honored as one of Progressive Grocers Top Women in Grocery in 2011, but she?s not one to rest on her laurels. Instead, Demchak usually goes right on to the next thing, but in a recent chat, PG encouraged this ageless dynamo to take a brief look back to see how far she?s come.

    Starting out at Stop & Shop back in 1981 as a ?bologna slicer? ? a gig that lasted all of two weeks, until she took a job as a meat wrapper to replace a woman who had broken her leg ? Demchak eventually enrolled in the banner?s apprentice program to become a deli manager for seven years, and then did stints as a night manager and a deli trainer (specialist) before finding her ultimate calling as a store manager.

    Still, Demchak remains modest about having risen through the ranks. ?The career path chose me; I didn?t choose the career path,? she insists, expressing gratitude that Stop & Shop paid for the undergraduate and graduate degrees she earned while working for the company.

    Summits of Achievement

    It was while managing a store in the poorest part of New Haven that Demchak, along with fellow Connecticut Food Bank member Kate Walton, now with Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers of Greater New Haven, devised a program that became Stop & Shop?s Healthy Food Summit series. Walton wanted to start nutrition classes for kids, and Demchak offered her store to prepare the meals taught in the lessons. The first summit was held in that store in 2010, with subsequent events targeting seniors (2013) and teens (2014). The summits have even attracted the notice of nearby Yale University, which has contributed to various panels.

    The teen program, which featured a ?Hunger Games?-style scavenger hunt, has proved the most popular so far, according to Demchak, who subsequently hired two of the adolescent participants on the inaugural event?s panel.

    Among her current and upcoming projects are a series of five to six small nutrition classes for diabetics of 10?15 attendees, which could become weekly, and the privately funded MOMs Partnership, created with the aim of helping single mothers deal with stress, for which Demchak has carved out dedicated space by her store?s entrance, to be staffed by volunteers.

    ?Teaching Life Skills?

    Another priority for Demchak is mentorship. To that end, she routinely steers promising workers to associate module training that enables part-timers to become full-timers. She notes that Stop & Shop is ?extremely supportive? of associate development, describing it as ?the backbone of how we grow? and observing that 90 percent of the banner?s managers come from within the organization.

    According to Demchak, being a store manager is ?a lot like being a teacher, except we?re teaching life skills, not arithmetic.? As recompense for her efforts, former associates often come back to thank her; one, who as a newly hired 18-year-old was always tardy, returned to report proudly, ?I?m not late anymore!?

    Inspired by such examples, Demchak attributes her longevity at the grocer to the fact that she loves what she does, particularly promoting other people.

    Despite the fact that she plans to retire next year ? an almost unthinkable prospect, given her boundless energy level ? Demchak plans to remain involved with the Healthy Summit and MOMs Partnership programs, as well as retaining her various local board memberships.

    Given all she?s been able to accomplish, what?s the secret of Demchak?s success at Stop & Shop? ?They never say no to me. I tell them [what I want to do], and they let me do what I want,? she replies, only half-joking.

    ?Trooping? Support Through Community Engagement

    A hold?s Maryland-based Giant Landover banner supports the nation?s military as a key service to the community, as demonstrated by the slate of programs designed to aid U.S. service members.

    ?Supporting our nation?s military men and women and their families is one of our core community engagement areas for Giant,? said Terry McGowan, director of quality assurance and a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. His reserve career has followed a supermarket career spanning Philadelphia to Fort Worth, and now the Baltimore-Washington area. He has completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past 10 years, and is currently a master sergeant and platoon commander in a Wilmington, Del., reserve unit.

    ?Service members and their families are obviously a unique and valued part of the fabric of our region,? McGowan affirms. ?We have a lot of military in this area, between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., so it?s a big part of our business.?

    Statement of Support

    McGowan mentions an event last year in which Giant revealed an aggressive military hiring initiative and signed an official statement of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency that develops and promotes support for guard and reserve service.

    ?Last year, we also participated in some job fairs throughout the region, including a large one at the M&T bank stadium ? home of one of our partners, the Baltimore Ravens,? McGowan says. ?Another such event took place at the Washington, D.C., armory shortly after. We have hired 24 veterans since the beginning of this initiative.?

    USO Partnership

    Giant-Landover has also maintained a strong partnership with the USO of Metropolitan Washington and Baltimore, along with the USO of Delaware, according to McGowan.

    Of the company?s annual USO giving campaign, McGowan notes: ?This year, we collected monetary donations from thousands of our patriotic customers, who bought 17,000 snack-pack care packages ? a small box of different snacks, hand sanitizer, etc. ? and through customers? generous support, the USO received a $100,000 donation and the 17,000 care packages were donated to deployed service men and women.

    ?From my personal experience of being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years as a reserve member, I can speak to the tremendous impact that those care packages have when you?re deployed,? he adds.

    Serving the Nation?s Capital

    Given the grocer?s proximity to the nation?s capital, Giant?s commitment to military members certainly has an impact on the local community. ?There are 15,000 major military installations in our operating area, so more than 10 percent of our country?s military force is actually based in the Washington metropolitan region,? McGowan observes, adding that every branch of service maintains a major installation within the chain?s store footprint, including Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware, on the northern end, and the Marine Corps, based in Quantico, Va., to the south.

    ??The individuals who serve in those bases are our neighbors, our friends, our family members and, in many cases, spouses, so, it?s one of the reasons I?m proud of the work that we do supporting military families,? he says.

    ?Giant Proud?

    ?I tell this story many times, when ? back in November 2011 ? I had just been with Giant for about a month,? recounts McGowan, ?and they published a list of all the contributions the company made within the past year. I remember being amazed at the amount of programs we were involved with,? he concludes, noting the following as among the most noteworthy:

    • ? $2 million raised and donated through the A+ School Rewards program, which benefits more than 2,000 schools in the company?s operating area
    • ? Triple Winner, which raises millions of dollars for adult and pediatric cancer research
    • ? 1 million pounds of food donated to hunger relief organizations, plus an additional 5,000 turkeys given to regional food bank partners around Thanksgiving
    • ? Partnerships with such organizations as Toys for Tots Foundation and the Salvation Army

    Customer Participation

    There is no shortage of ways for customers to get involved in Giant?s support programs, the most substantial of which is the effort with the USO to send service members care packages ? 17,000 of which have been purchased so far by customers.

    Reflecting on the ways in which he aspires to live up to Ahold USA?s Better Neighbor promise, McGowan says: ?I?m involved in many of Giant?s responsible retailing initiatives,? including plastic, cardboard and organic recycling programs, as well as a new campaign to eliminate 1 billion bags from the company?s operations by the end of 2015. McGowan has also worked to launch Giant?s Meat the Needs meat donation program, in which meat that hasn?t been purchased by its sell-by date is frozen, stored and donated to local food bank partners.

    Of all of those activities in which he takes part, however, ?I?m probably most proud of being a member of the board of directors for the Children?s Cancer Foundation, which raises funds for children?s cancer research and different support organizations,? he concludes, adding that Giant is the corporate sponsor of the Children?s Cancer Foundation?s annual gala.

    ?It?s a great organization, we?re their biggest benefactor, and we?ve been a partner for over 30 years,? he says of the foundation. ?It?s been the core of our operation.?

    ?We know we?re not going to become a great retailer unless were also a great place to work, and a great neighbor in the communities which we serve and where we live. Every single one of our divisions has been a key player in their communities, and has continuously found ways to give back.?
    ?James McCann, COO, Ahold USA

    ?Customers today want to know that they?re doing business with a good corporate citizen.?
    ?Tracy Pawelski, VP, External Communications, Ahold USA

    ?I can?t tell you how proud I was of our people, who worked around the clock for the six weeks after the devastation of Sandy to help minimize the hardships of others.?
    ?Don Sussman, President, Stop & Shop New York Metro Division

    ?I?ve worked on three continents and in 10 countries, and I?ve never seen a company?s community engagement more profoundly embedded in its DNA than what exists in the divisions of Ahold USA.?
    ?James McCann, COO, Ahold USA

    ?It?s really about the trusted relationships our associates have with customers, which personifies the central foundation of our Better Neighbor promise.?
    ?Kathy Russello, EVP, Human Resources, Ahold USA

    ?Diversity and inclusion are valued at every level of our organization and are integral parts of our business culture.?
    ?Kathy Russello, EVP, Human Resources, Ahold USA

    ?Being a better neighbor in the communities we serve is critical to our broader effort of getting better every day.?
    ?Bhavdeep Singh, EVP, New Formats and Chair of Our Family Foundation

    ?We have a tremendous legacy of giving. It?s astonishing, the stories you?ll hear among the divisions.
    ?Bhavdeep Singh, EVP, New Formats and Chair of Our Family Foundation

    ?We?re big on energy conservation across the company.?
    ?Jihad Rizkallah, VP, Responsible Retailing, Ahold USA

    ?We are really building on health-and-wellness needs throughout the entire store. It?s an extremely important piece of our Better Neighbor promise?
    ?John MacDonald, Director, Marketing & External Communications, Giant/Martin?s

    ?We?re committed to doing all that we can to help people to make healthier choices, especially kids.
    ?John MacDonald, Director, Marketing & External Communications, Giant/Martin?s

    ?Bringing fresh, affordable food to communities is important, and we equally feel that helping our less-fortunate neighbors, those who go to food banks, is part of this mission.
    ?Christopher Brand, Manager, Public and Community Relations, Giant/Martin?s

    ?Being a store manager is a lot like being a teacher, except we?re teaching life skills, not arithmetic.?
    ?Anne Demchak, Stop & Shop Store Manager

    ?Supporting our nation?s military men and women and their families is one of our core community engagement areas for Giant.?
    ?Terry McGowan, Director of Quality Assurance, Giant Landover

    By Meg Major, EnsembleIQ
    • About Meg Major Veteran supermarket industry journalist Meg Major brings a wealth of experience to her role as Chief Content Editor of Progressive Grocer. In addition to her editorial duties, Major also spearheads the retail food industry’s premier women’s leadership recognition platform, Top Women in Grocery. Follow her on Twitter at @Meg_Major, connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/megmajor, or email her at [email protected]

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