Bolstered by a history of good deeds, Food For All approaches its 20th anniversary with new momentum, new partners and a more sophisticated outlook, Larry McCurry, chairman of Food For All, told SN.
The organization since its founding has made nearly $40 million in charitable donations around the world, including $2.7 million during fiscal year 2003. More than 6,000 supermarkets will participate in this year's holiday program.
But the significant change marking Food For All today is the inclusion of food manufacturers and brokers, which has completed the industry chain of participants that previously included retailers and distributors. McCurry, a retired executive with Unilever HPC, today heads a board of trustees that includes executives from manufacturers such as Pepsi, Kellogg's and Kraft. Their addition has allowed Food For All to raise more money than ever before, and for those charitable efforts to be good for business, McCurry said.
"What we've worked hard on was creating a business model that not only did good, but made for a more vibrant business proposition, so not only would those involved do good for their communities and the greater universe but also be adhering to a model that's productive for their organization," McCurry said.
"We want to put together a volumetric model so people can have tangible business results in these promotions that in time will make it less reliant on the goodwill of people making donations, and more on the organization responding to a positive business model," he added.
Food For All has 15 promotions being planned for 2005, ranging from its traditional donation cards at checkout, to shelf-talkers, to elaborate events involving sports stars and Hollywood actors.
Food For All's recent changes reflect shifts both in the nature of food retailing and in charitable organizations, said Denis R. Zegar, Food For All's chairman and chief executive officer. Brokers can now run the promotions because of resources that have been taken out of retail. And charities have taken a hit as the result of events including the 9/11 attacks, the war in Iraq and the four-month strike-lockout that hit Southern California supermarkets.
"With Food For All, we had a name that was untarnished and highly respected, and everyone recognized did good work," Zegar said. "We thought there was no downside to going to manufacturers and saying, 'Hey guy, you're looking for a new promotion idea, why not partner with us?' It's a marriage made in heaven. We partnered with every major broker so it's so turnkey for the retailer it's almost ridiculous not to participate with us."
According to McCurry, Food For All promotions will continue to evolve with trends in the food industry. For instance, the organization is looking into opportunities to tap into growing Hispanic populations and capitalizing on current issues such as health and nutrition. "Fifteen promotions is only scratching the surface."
Another goal of McCurry is to tap into 20 years of Food For All history, and use it as an asset to gather in additional participants and generate more charitable donations from all facets of the food industry.
"We have an organization with 20 years of good behind it, but it doesn't necessarily enjoy the full leverage it deserves as a legacy," he said.
"That's partly because of changes and new people in the industry. Our challenge is getting the word out."