Company : C&S Wholesale Grocers
Program category : 2017


While C&S Wholesale Grocers is known for its long term commitment to addressing food insecurity (with a particular focus on childhood hunger), this application focuses on the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability. In 2017, to celebrate 10 years of partnership with The Conservation Fund, C&S embarked on an innovative environmental sustainability project called People, Pallets, Planet – Go Zero®. The project helps protect 250 acres of working forest, which is approximately the same size as the food distribution centers owned and leased by C&S (11.5M square feet). The timber sustainably harvested from forests will help offset the wood fiber footprint of approximately 20,000 wood pallets that C&S uses to transport food and goods to its customers.

The commitment to responsible sourcing for paper, packaging and materials including expands on C&S’ commitment to protecting and restoring forests across America. C&S joined a growing group of businesses including Apple, Dell, Disney, IKEA and U-Haul that recognize forests are important for protecting wildlife, filtering water and trapping carbon to address climate change. Leadership from C&S will help create a steady supply of responsibly harvested wood fiber while also helping to support the timber-based economy, starting with the forests of New Hampshire.

In addition to providing wood for the creation of pallets every year, America’s forests provide timber for construction and pulp for paper and packaging. Protecting forests can have a direct, positive impact on industry supply chains that rely on a steady supply of responsibly managed timber to meet corporate goals for sustainable sourcing.


The contribution from C&S to The Conservation Fund’s People, Pallets, Planet – Go Zero® program is leveraging an estimated $3 million public-private partnership to support the conservation of 8,700 acres of land. Partners include the USDA’s Forest Legacy Program and the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands. Additional private support was provided by contributions from thousands of individuals and U-Haul International; all share a deep commitment to the environmental sustainability. The protection of the 8,700 forest builds on the Mahoosuc Gateway Initiative, a broader conservation effort of 30,000 acres led by The Conservation Fund that includes conservation of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and working forestland in New Hampshire’s North Country region.


C&S Wholesale Grocers is committed to environmental sustainability and has an objective of reducing its footprint when storing and shipping food—and that’s making a difference in the air, on forests, and in our streams and rivers. Through its support of the People, Pallets, Planet – Go Zero® program, it means C&S is measuring and offsetting portions of its energy use and the impact of employees’ commutes by planting trees (nearly 100,000 trees!). It also means measuring its “fiber footprint” including the wooden pallets used in its distribution centers -- and offsetting a portion of that impact -- by protecting forests to create a more sustainable supply chain.


The impact of the environmental sustainability project called People, Pallets, Planet – Go Zero® between C&S Wholesale Grocers and The Conservation Fund is three-pronged:

  • Forest conservation - The expanded partnership to secure a conservation easement in New Hampshire will protect more than 8,700 acres of forest important for water quality, recreation, wildlife and timber supply.
  • Sustainable supply chain - Donations from C&S to The Conservation Fund will offset the forest footprint of approximately 20,000 wood pallets used to store and then transport the food and goods C&S distributes to its customers.
  • Climate and wildlife - Since 2005, C&S has made possible the planting of nearly 100,000 trees across more than 250 acres in six national wildlife refuges in states where the company has operations and employees, including California, Louisiana, and Texas. The trees benefit the climate, provide habitat for wildlife and enhance recreation on the land. Donations have also contributed toward the protection and sustainable management of redwood forests in Northern California. 


“We’re proud to be among the supporters of The Conservation Fund, one of the nation’s most respected and effective environmental organizations,” said Richard B. Cohen, Chairman and CEO of C&S Wholesale Grocers. “Working together to plant trees and protect working forests is part of our aim to be a more sustainable enterprise. Our partnership with them enhances our investments in recycling, energy efficiency, and logistics technology,” he noted.

Support Statement:

“C&S Wholesale Grocers is a proven leader in innovation and sustainability,” said The Conservation Fund’s vice president of business partnerships, Jena Thompson Meredith. “A decade ago, C&S committed to reducing its carbon footprint when storing and shipping food. Its expanded commitment to forests as part of its supply chain delivers real, measurable and positive results for conservation, climate and communities, including the planting of tens of thousands of trees, the conservation of hundreds of acres, and the strengthening of forest-based economies in from coast to coast.”

Leadership by C&S Wholesale Grocers to protect forests as part of its supply chain was recognized by New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu who said: “This initiative illustrates how public and private sector leaders are able to join state partners to help conserve our natural resources. We commend those companies willing to invest in a unique partnership with long-term results for our environment and economy.”