By: Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO, FMI
It is understood in communication circles that it takes seven pieces of good news to offset the effects of one negative report. Apparently, humans are simply hardwired to give bad news more emotional heft. So when the critical accounts of the effects of COVID-19 come crashing in – the nation’s health status, the jobs lost, the challenges to the food supply, and the uncertainty of what the future looks like – it’s easy to become overwhelmed in the daily bath of bad news. It is then that we must remember another truth about humans – we are often at our best when things are the worst. Challenging times produce their fair share of victims, but they also create a climate for heroes to emerge.
Since the early days of the pandemic, FMI staff have been tracking news stories recording the food industry’s responses to their communities. Our tracking is a growing spreadsheet updated daily with nearly 200 rows documenting stories of food, product and monetary donations to those organizations serving people in desperate need. Of course, these actions are on top of the daily courageous efforts being exerted by grocery store teams to remain open, serve the public and ensure our customers are getting the food and other items needed for their families.
Some of the headlines we have collected share tales of how members of the food industry are helping first responders and health care workers. Funding mechanisms have been established to support delivery drivers and seasonal employees. And during this time of heightened need, many retailers have stepped up their long-standing support of national and local food banks to ensure those most vulnerable in our communities have access to the food they need. There are touching stories of helping seniors and innovative stories of diverting resources to produce high-need items like hand-sanitizer.
The list of food industry heroes giving back during this time is truly astonishing. Collaborations are crossing competitive boundaries and size delineations with national and regional grocery chains working side by side with large and small manufacturers. But the list also includes independent operators and emerging brands and suppliers all working innovatively together to unravel the conundrums confronting us and to band together in efforts to produce solutions. The full spectrum of the food industry is collectively standing up and saying, “We’re All In This Together” and rising to the challenges of the times.
It is always an honor to be part of the food industry, but it is especially rewarding during times like these to be associated with such a noble industry. And to all those on the front lines continuing to help customers feed their families, we thank you, and we acknowledge you as the heroes you truly are.