Supermarket companies around the country generally step up their charitable activities at this time of year, making donations and partnering in local fund-raisers to strengthen their ties to the community.
ach store finds at least one needy family in the community and provides it with holiday meals. In addition, employees chip in to buy gifts for the families. The company's headquarters and warehouse get involved, too.
"Last year, we serviced more than 500 families throughout our trading area to help some people have a brighter holiday," said Richard Savner, a spokesman for the company. "It keeps us as part of the fabric of the community so people recognize us for the good work we do. They know they can count on Pathmark for more than just operating within the four walls of a building."
Local rival ShopRite, through its ShopRite Partners in Caring, a hunger-relief organization run by ShopRite stores that are part of the Wakefern cooperative, Elizabeth, N.J., donated 30 tons of turkeys to 15 local food banks this month.
"We've been donating turkeys for years, but an increase in demand for food assistance this year prompted us to significantly increase our donation," said Karen Meleta, a spokeswoman for ShopRite.
Stew Leonard's, Norwalk, Conn., also does a big turkey giveaway each year. This year, the company is donating about 1,500 turkeys to more than 50 different local charities.
Like Pathmark, Associated Food Stores, Salt Lake City, seeks to help feed local families during the holiday season through its store-level ties to the community. One of the charitable programs AFS conducts is Sub for Santa, in which it directs food to disadvantaged families that are mostly friends and acquaintances of team members, Richard Parkinson, president and chief executive officer, AFS, told SN in a recent interview. The program was initiated more than 15 years ago.
Penn Traffic, Syracuse, N.Y., which is in the midst of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, remains involved with charities through its Project Caring Food Drive, which allows customers to support local hunger-relief efforts in three different ways, while also earning free groceries for themselves. Customers can purchase $5 "care bags" filled with food staples that are delivered to the needy; they can donate canned goods and other nonperishables at the stores; and they can add $1 onto their grocery bills to support local relief efforts. Shoppers who donate food or money receive an entry into the Project Caring Holiday Sweepstakes, which awards gift certificates to winners.
"We do something to help a nonprofit, but we also want to bring customers into our stores," said Marc Jampole, spokesman, Penn Traffic. "We want to do good and do well at the same time."
Jack Brown, chairman and CEO, Stater Bros. Markets, Colton, Calif., said Stater is not involved with any particular charity for the holidays, "but we put a lot more emphasis on the Food for All Program, which does a tremendous job during the holidays because when people get to the checkstands, they feel lucky to be able to shop for what they need. When they see the Food for All displays, it reminds them there are people who need help. As a result, we see donations go up four times in December compared with any other month."