With its visionary Zero Hunger Zero Waste program, Kroger, America’s grocer, is working to eliminate hunger and wasted food.
Did you know that 42 million people across the country struggle with hunger? Or that an astonishing 72 billion pounds of food end up in landfills each year?
It’s a baffling paradox: Forty percent of our country’s food goes to waste, while one in eight Americans suffers from hunger. The numbers are staggering, so Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the nation, has adopted an initiative in an effort to erase hunger and eliminate food waste by 2025.
“No family in a community we serve should ever go hungry, and no food in a store we operate should ever go to waste,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO.
For that reason, Kroger, America’s grocer and one of the leading retailers in the world, has made a commitment to assist communities around the country with this crisis and to honor the company’s “Purpose to feed the human spirit”. While they don’t have all the answers, Kroger is seeking solutions by asking communities, partners and other stakeholders to help provide ideas, feedback and best practices as the effort evolves.
The concept to erase hunger involves accelerating food donations to provide 3 billion meals by 2025 along with $10 million to fund the initiative. As of 2013, Kroger has donated 1 billion meals via combined food and monetary means. And it isn’t just about providing more food to the needy, but better quality food. They are striving to provide more balanced meals via Kroger’s innovative fresh food— rather than canned food— donations program. They are also advocating for public policy changes that would alleviate long lines at food banks and lobbying for continued funding of federal hunger relief programs. Humans aren’t the only beneficiaries from the initiative, both their plants and retail locations will expand animal feed processes which will allow for the donation of safe and nutritious food scraps to animals.
The process to eliminate waste is on track for Kroger. By 2020, they are aiming to ultimately meet and exceed EPA’s Zero Waste threshold of 90% diversion from landfill in their facilities. They are also continuing to integrate reusable plastic containers into their network in an effort to reduce waste. Also on their agenda: Testing new technology that will lower waste in the supply chain plus expanding their composting operation to provide nutrients back to our environment. In 2016, Kroger recycled 68 million pounds of plastic and 2.35 billion pounds of cardboard. By the year 2020, they expect to recycle over 200 million pounds of plastic and 3.3 billion tons of cardboard.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
So what can we do, locally, to help drive this cause? Tim McGurk, Regional Director of Corporate Affairs for Kroger is excited about engaging our community with this endeavor. “We can’t do this alone. We are making it very easy for our customers to join in this effort. Donations of any amount can be dropped in the coin boxes which are located at the checkout lanes of all area Kroger stores. These donations will go directly to Dare to Care food bank here in Louisville. Non-perishable food donations can be placed in the Dare to Care barrels which are also located in every area Kroger store.”
For more information on this impactful endeavor, go to thekrogerco.com/sustainability/zero-hunger-zero-waste and join the effort to end hunger and eliminate waste. •