At Festival Foods checkouts throughout Wisconsin, shoppers have an opportunity to support local food pantries and animal organizations by simply adding a donation to their grocery totals. Two programs unique to Festival Foods are Food for Neighbors and Paw Away Hunger. Both programs offer shoppers the opportunity to purchase $5 or $10 donation cards. Festival Foods donates 100 percent of the collected funds to local organizations in the form of product donations, so the organizations can shop for just the items they need – at Festival Foods’ cost. Helping neighbors in need has always been at the heart of Festival Foods’ vision. In the 1940s, when the company was young, grocery shoppers could pay their grocery bill on pay day rather than at the time of checkout. Many stores then offered similar “credit” payment options. In the 3,000-square-foot IGA store in Onalaska, Wisconsin, where Festival Foods began, founder Paul Skogen was known to forgive the grocery debts of people in the community who had fallen on hard times. Cashiers would retell stories of people coming in to pay their bill only to find it had disappeared – or rather, Paul had ripped it up! This neighbor-helping-neighbor spirit is still thriving at Festival Foods in form of the Food for Neighbors and Paw Away Hunger programs. Food for Neighbors began in 2004; Paw Away Hunger program was added shortly after to help Wisconsin animal organizations fill food and supply needs. The two programs are now in all 31 Festival Foods stores throughout Wisconsin.
Festival Foods prominently displays $5 and $10 Food for Neighbors and Paw Away Hunger donation cards at every register. Shoppers who want to make a donation simply take a card – along with their other groceries – to the cashier, who adds the donation amount to the grocery total. Festival Foods gives 100 percent of all Food for Neighbors and Paw Away Hunger donations in the form of product to nonprofit organizations. Items are purchased at Festival Foods’ cost, rather than at retail prices, which adds even more bang to each donated dollar.
Festival Foods knows its guests care about their communities. The objective of Food for Neighbors and Paw Away Hunger is to provide an easy way for Festival Foods guests to help fill the needs of their local food pantries and animal organizations. In addition, Festival Foods has a goal of increasing awareness of food insecurities for both food pantries and animal organizations in our communities. Because Festival Foods gives 100 percent of all Food for Neighbors and Paw Away Hunger donations to these organizations, the company is able to positively impact the communities and surrounding areas where Festival Foods stores are located.
Food for Neighbors and Paw Away Hunger have raised $1,839,976 to date, with 2018 Food for Neighbors donations totaling $156,470, and 2018 Paw Away Hunger donations totaling $71,855. Food for Neighbors and Paw Away Hunger donations stay in the communities where they were collected. Currently, the programs support 40 Wisconsin food pantries and 35 Wisconsin animal organizations.
“Our guests and associates are making a positive impact in their local communities with every contribution to Food for Neighbors and Paw Away Hunger. By promoting opportunities to contribute to these programs in our stores, we have the honor to further call attention to some of the needs in our communities.” — Mark Skogen, Skogen’s Festival Foods President and CEO
"Our community lost its grocery store some time ago, so many people here travel to the nearby town of Fort Atkinson to do their grocery shopping at Festival Foods. Barbara Quast and I are co-managers of the Whitewater Community Food Pantry, and we are very grateful to Festival Foods and its Food for Neighbors program for supporting our food pantry, which has served Whitewater residents for almost 100 years. It works out really well that we can "shop" for just the items we need every quarter using the donated funds. Because Thanksgiving is around the corner, we used this most recent donation to purchase canned pumpkin, cranberry jelly, peaches, green beans and other items we can put in our Thanksgiving bags. We are now serving over 400 families in our community, and this Thanksgiving we are planning on providing meal donation bags to about 200 families. Every dollar we receive from Food for Neighbors brings us closer to our goal." — Patricia Chaput, Co-Manager, Whitewater Community Food Pantry, Whitewater, Wisconsin