Giving Thanks to Our Giving Industry
This past month, Imperial team members visited Friendly House, a neighborhood center in Worcester, MA, for our annual United Way Leadership Donor Luncheon. As we toured the facility, the Friendly House team introduced us to the room that transforms into a walk-in refrigerator for the “hundreds of turkeys stacked floor to ceiling” for donation to the local community each November. Recipients’ moving expression of gratitude during our visit reminded us of the real need in our community, and the tangible impact not only of our own giving, but also of our industry’s.
While November marks one of the busiest seasons for retail and supermarkets, and for the sale of GM and HBW products, high seasonal revenues also poignantly signal the importance of giving back to those less fortunate. A 2015 USDA study shows that 42.2 million Americans live in households that struggle with food insecurity. In our own state of Massachusetts, 750,000 people have difficulty providing food for themselves, with children and seniors being the most vulnerable. Leaders in the supermarket industry have, and continue to be, at the forefront of responding generously, not only to the crisis of hunger, but also to where local needs are greatest.
The holiday season particularly highlights the supermarket industry’s spirit of giving. Every year, our retail customers raise millions of dollars in “hunger relief” programs and donate thousands of turkeys to local food banks and pantries. Just in Massachusetts, supermarket chains including Big Y, Hannaford, Market Basket, Roche Bros., Shaw’s/Star Markets and Stop & Shop donated over 15,000 turkeys to Massachusetts residents through the Greater Boston Food Bank. Through ongoing community programs and foundations, retailers like Price Chopper, Wegmans and Whole Foods also set an example for philanthropy and community giving. In addition, supermarkets’ initiatives to donate unsalable, edible food products throughout the year are helping to simultaneously reduce food waste and address hunger.
Our industry’s generosity extends beyond supermarket retailers. Utilizing the facilities of The Greater Boston Food Bank, the New England Food Foundation (NEFF)—represented by supermarkets, brokers, manufacturers, and distributors—donate over 10,000 cases of food products, distributed by volunteers to more than 75 food shelters and pantries on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year. Throughout the year, our industry also supports many other social and community causes. Because of this continuous community giving, the Massachusetts Food Association has recognized The New England Food Foundation, along with Imperial Distributors, as this year’s Community Service Award recipients.
We are all extremely proud of what our industry does to give back to our communities. It is with sincere gratitude that we extend our warmest best wishes to all for a wonderful and bountiful Thanksgiving!