WASHINGTON, DC — September 14, 2005 — Hundreds of supermarkets recovering from Hurricane Katrina need immediate help to prepare their stores for the return of families who evacuated their communities, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) said today, responding to requests from Congress and the Department of Homeland Security for disaster relief recommendations.
“These Americans deserve clean, safe and abundant food on day one when they return — particularly after all they’ve been through,” said FMI President and CEO Tim Hammonds.
Food retailers can serve them best if the government provides the support needed as they clean, sanitize, rebuild and restock their stores. Helping small, family-owned businesses is especially critical since their operations may be concentrated in the hardest-hit areas.
“Whenever disaster strikes,” Hammonds emphasized, “the food industry is always among the first to respond. Retailers act with urgency and compassion, which is rooted in a commitment to their communities and to their neighbors who are the customers they serve every day. Having supermarkets up and running is essential to restoring a sense of normalcy to people’s lives.”
FMI provided Congress a comprehensive list of industry needs. The most important immediate requests include:
- Restore communications to serve America’s neediest so retailers can accept food stamps, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program vouchers and other government benefits.
- Give the necessary inoculations, vaccines and boosters to food industry employees in infected disaster areas.
- Expedite the removal of debris and provide security for employees and shoppers in stores and along distribution routes.
- Allocate fuel to supermarkets and wholesalers on a priority basis to ensure that food and other essential goods are delivered quickly to stores in disaster relief areas.
- Offer incentives for companies to hire displaced workers, including the newly homeless and people without verifiable paperwork.
The industry is still evaluating the support needed to recover since the full extent of the damage is not yet known. For more information on the food industry’s response to Hurricane Katrina, please visit www.fmi.org.