GIANT Food Stores/MARTIN’S food Markets is committed to being a responsible retailer and better neighbor in the communities that they serve. Among the ways they do this is by reducing waste and minimizing its impact on the environment in addition to supporting regional food banks in their efforts to fight hunger locally. These two initiatives combined a few years ago to great success by reducing food waste and helping local hunger relief efforts at the same time. Several years ago, meat that would go unsold at GIANT/MARTIN’S stores, would end up in the dumpster. Recognizing this waste and to help maximize its food donations, GIANT/MARTIN’S talked with their food bank partners to understand what products they really needed. Protein, especially meat, was the most desired and most impactful donation. The food banks also accepted both fresh and frozen product, with most having refrigerated trucks to accept frozen meat through safe handling procedures. Titled “Meat the Needs,” GIANT/MARTIN’S first piloted the meat donation program in 2009 with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and 16 Harrisburg, PA stores and Philabundance and 10 greater Philadelphia stores. Stores and warehouses froze meat, which includes beef, poultry and pork, that would otherwise go unsold and instead of discarding it, donated it to the regional food bank partners. This product was safe, consumable food that GIANT/MARTIN’S would be just as proud to sell to customers.
GIANT/MARTIN’S meat managers pull the meat just ahead of the expiration date and place it in the store’s freezer. Following the initial pilot, GIANT/MARTIN’S removed the burden of food banks visiting their stores to pick up the donated meat. Instead, as fresh product is delivered to the stores, GIANT/MARTIN’S perishables team picks up the donated meat, where it is returned to the distribution center, sorted and delivered to the food bank partners.
As part of GIANT/MARTIN’S commitment to being a better neighbor, the grocer has remained committed to the fight against hunger by partnering with approximately 100 regional food banks and local pantries. For example, in 2013 hunger relief efforts and donations to regional food banks accounted for approximately 40% of GIANT/MARTIN’S community giving. The Meat the Needs program has been an extension of GIANT/MARTIN’S support of hunger relief efforts while also helping to reduce food waste throughout its operating area.
Today, all 200 GIANT/MARTIN’S stores participate in the Meat the Needs program with the meat donations delivered to the food bank partners by the company’s own trucks. Since the program’s inception, more than three million pounds of meat, which would otherwise go unsold, has been donated to GIANT/MARTIN’S 5 regional food bank partners. Since the program began, over 3.5 million pounds of meat has been donated to food banks. In November 2013, GIANT was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its efforts to donate and divert as much excess food as possible to help feed those in need.
“One of the most gratifying things we do is work closely with our food bank partners to provide thousands of meals to neighbors in need in our local communities. This strong partnership greatly benefits ongoing hunger relief efforts, which can best be illustrated by our Meat the Needs program. We learned firsthand from our food bank partners that high protein meat was most often needed and often in short supply and we worked together to come up with the best solution. Four years later, more than three million pounds of meat has been donated.” - Tom Lenkevich, GIANT/MARTIN’S president