Being a grocery retailer, the fight against hunger is a natural fit and Ahold USA and its retail divisions give significant food and funds throughout the year. As part of the $67 million donated to local communities by its divisions, 46% or $31 million was dedicated to hunger relief in 2012. In addition to its core charitable giving mission of hunger relief, Ahold USA and its divisions are also committed to improving the lives of children throughout the communities they serve. Through its Our Family Foundation, the company combined these two missions and took them a step further to deliver on a call to action to do everything they could to alleviate childhood hunger by reaching more food insecure children with healthy meals. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 17 million children are hungry or at risk of hunger in the U.S. today. In early 2013, Ahold USA announced a three-year initiative to distribute $9 million in Fighting Child Hunger grants from its Our Family Foundation. Ahold USA aims to provide 10 million meals to underserved children by 2015.
As part of the initiative, Fighting Child Hunger grants were awarded to 21 regional food banks served by Ahold USA’s Stop & Shop New England, Stop & Shop New York Metro, and Giant Landover divisions. Each grant recipient submitted a proposal in late 2012 addressing how they believed a Fighting Child Hunger grant could best be used to feed more children. These grants target communities with significant need in order to provide healthy meals to children through child care, after school, mobile pantries, and summer programs, as well as other innovative approaches. The core Fighting Child Hunger grants are being further supplemented by the Associate Volunteer Program, which recognizes associate volunteer time at eligible food banks with a donation of $150 for at least 10 hours of volunteer time. Ahold USA and all retail division associates are eligible to participate in this program.
The overarching objective of Ahold USA’s Fighting Child Hunger grants is to empower regional food banks to alleviate child hunger by reaching more food insecure children with healthy meals. Each grant recipient food bank has their own specific objectives based around the program they want to expand or the new initiative they are launching as a result of the grant. In 2013 alone, more than $2.6 million has been donated to 21 food bank partners towards both ongoing and new initiatives to alleviate child hunger. Ahold USA recently approved the year two requests for all grantees to continue their work to feed more children.
Stories are filtering in from the recipient regional food banks as to how their grant is helping them to feed more children. The Connecticut Food Bank’s grant is starting and supporting their Groceries on Wheels program – a walk-in mobile pantry with fresh produce and healthy groceries targeting low-income families with children. They have purchased the customized truck and entered into an agreement with Head Start programs to begin product deliveries to serve participating families. During the government shutdown, these Head Start programs had to close their doors, leaving children without meals they would have received during daycare. In response, the Connecticut Food Bank used some of their grant funds to provide emergency food distribution to the 1,200 children at the 13 closed Head Start programs. At Long Island Cares, Inc. – The Harry Chapin Food Bank, their Fighting Child Hunger grant is supporting the Kids Café After School and Mentoring Program. Long Island Cares has expanded the number of sites they work with and provided much needed kitchen equipment and supplies so that programs that previously only served snacks, can now serve nutritious meals. Fredericksburg Area Food Bank’s new Kids on the Go Summer Feeding Van hit the road in June to bring meals to 600 children attending summer school in the Fredericksburg, VA area thanks to their Fighting Child Hunger grant. The van helps the food bank transition from providing bag meals to students during the summer months to providing hot meals and healthy snacks throughout the year.
“Being a better neighbor is one of the guiding principles in how we serve our customers and local communities. Through Our Family Foundation, we have combined our charitable missions to fight hunger and help children by focusing on the issue of child hunger. Our three-year, $9 million Fighting Child Hunger grants will help us provide nearly 10 million healthy meals to children across our market area who are most in need,” said James McCann, COO, Ahold USA.