BOISE, Idaho -- Albertson's here is expanding its commitment to the Food Industry Crusade Against Hunger because it's "the right thing to do," Peter Lynch, president and chief operating officer, told SN.
"There are 31 million people affected by hunger, and Albertson's is committed to help alleviate that situation within the neighborhoods in which we operate," he said. "Participating in programs like FICAH that try to deal with hunger in America is simply the right thing to do."
Albertson's has worked with FICAH since 1987, Lynch said, and during that time it's raised approximately $7.5 million through FICAH's Food For All checkstand program, which gives consumers the opportunity to add $1, $3 or $5 to their grocery bills to be directed toward local hunger projects, he noted.
Albertson's has traditionally left it up to each division to determine whether it participates in the program, he said, "and right now about 60% to 70% of the company is participating.
"But over the next year we're moving toward 100% participation as divisions that offer it share their successes with other divisions, which makes those divisions want to get on board."
Some Albertson's divisions offer Food For All as a year-round program, while others offer it only on a seasonal basis, Lynch pointed out, and that will not change. "Those who offer it seasonally feel it makes a bigger impact during the holidays," he pointed out.
Lynch said Albertson's discusses programs like FICAH with division managers when it brings them together at company meetings. "We tell them Albertson's has a rich heritage supporting the communities we serve, and our goal is to continue to represent the neighborhoods we're in.
"Over the past year we've donated 22 million pounds of food to local food banks, and FICAH parallels what we try to do within each neighborhood as we reach out to the communities we serve."
Besides offering the Food For All program at the checkstand, Albertson's stores feature some point-of-purchase materials calling attention to FICAH's efforts, Lynch said. In addition, some divisions include information in their circulars or weekly ads explaining that Albertson's is fighting hunger in America through the Food For All program, he pointed out.
"Offering Food For All is not pushing anything onto consumers. It's simply an opportunity for them to make the decision, and we find that's a decision a lot of customers want to make. So we see the program as very much a positive, not a negative.
"Unfortunately, only a few retail companies are making the kind of commitment to fighting hunger that Albertson's is, and we'd like to see more of the industry get involved," he said.
Toward that end, Lynch said he talks to his peers both formally and informally to tell them how important FICAH and similar programs are. "The most common question I'm asked is how consumers receive the Food For All program, and I tell them they receive it well," he said.
Albertson's is looking for tie-in opportunities with manufacturers. Albertson's divisions have worked with manufacturers on local promotions in the past, where 25 cents from each purchase of a given product went toward a donation to a local food bank.