The Kroger Co., one of the largest supermarket chains, announced Sept. 19 a new national effort aimed at ending hunger in the communities Kroger calls home and eliminating waste across the company by 2025.
“No family in a community we serve should ever go hungry, and no food in a store we operate should ever go to waste," Kroger chairman and chief executive officer Rodney McMullen said.
Across the U.S., 42 million Americans struggle with hunger. At the same time, an estimated 72 billion lb. of food ends up in a landfill every year.
“More than 40% of the food produced in the U.S. each year goes unconsumed, while one in eight people struggle with hunger. That just doesn’t make sense,” McMullen said. “As America’s grocer and one of the largest retailers in the world, we are committing to doing something about it.”
Kroger’s visionary Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan includes commitments outlined below, in keeping with the company’s Purpose to Feed the Human Spirit.
Kroger is also crowdsourcing for solutions, asking communities, partners and other stakeholders to help provide ideas, feedback and best practices as the effort evolves.
“We don’t – and we won’t – have all the answers,” said Jessica Adelman, Kroger group vice president of corporate affairs. “While we are clear about our vision, we are flexible about how to get there. We are working closely with both Feeding America and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) -- our long-standing partners -- to develop transparent metrics to track our progress.”
Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America, said, “Hunger exists in every county and affects every demographic group in this country. If we are to succeed in creating a hunger-free America, it will take the combined efforts of a variety of groups – policy-makers, nonprofits, individuals and corporations – working together with the 200 network member food banks. Kroger is stepping up to the challenge, and we look forward to working with them on their Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan.”
Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan includes the following goals:.
- Establish a $10 million innovation fund within The Kroger Co. Foundation to address hunger, food waste and the paradoxical relationship between the two.
- Accelerate food donations to provide 3 billion meals by 2025 to feed people facing hunger in the places Kroger calls home. In partnership with its customers, associates and other partners, Kroger has donated 1 billion meals via combined food and funds donations since 2013.
- Donate not just more food but more balanced meals via Kroger’s industry-leading fresh food donations program. Kroger has been feeding people facing hunger since the company’s inception in 1883, and as a founding partner of Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, Kroger has long-standing partners with food banks across the country. Today, Kroger store associates are empowered to identify meat, produce, dairy and bakery items for donation that remain safe, fresh and nutritious. Last year, Kroger donated the equivalent of 46 million fresh meals to local food banks, in addition to dry goods and shelf-stable groceries.
- Advocate for public policy solutions to address hunger and to shorten the line at food banks, lobbying for continued funding of federal hunger relief programs and for public policies that help communities prevent and divert waste from landfills, including recycling, composting and sustainability programs that can be scaled for maximum impact.
- Achieve all Zero Waste 2020 goals outlined in the annual Kroger sustainability report.
- Eliminate food waste by 2025 through prevention, donation and diversion efforts in all stores and across Kroger. Develop transparent reporting on food loss and waste.
- Join forces with both new and long-standing partners to identify opportunities, leverage data and determine where, by working together, Kroger can help the most.
- Transform communities and improve the health of millions of Americans by 2025 by making balanced meals more readily available, sharing scalable food waste solutions with other retailers, restaurants and local governments and working within Kroger’s supply chain to reduce farm-to-fork food loss.
“Zero Hunger | Zero Waste is a vision for the America we want to help create with our associates, customers and stakeholders,” McMullen said. “This is our moonshot.’”
He added, “We recognize we have a lot of work to do, but we know when Kroger’s more than 443,000 associates put their passion to work to make something happen, we can uplift our communities, the planet and each other.”