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In 2017, Kroger launched a company-wide initiative called Zero Hunger | Zero Waste fueled by a commitment to end hunger in the communities it serves and eliminate waste in the company by 2025. The driving factor behind this initiative was a staggering statistic: 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is thrown away, yet 1 in 8 Americans struggles with hunger.

Kroger decided to tackle the issue and began to chip away at it.

“This is a big — some might say crazy — moonshot initiative, but we figured if anyone should take this on, we should as America’s grocer,” said Melissa Eads, Corporate Affairs Manager for the Kroger Nashville Division.

Zero Hunger | Zero Waste is a company-wide initiative of Kroger designed to end hunger in the communities the company serves and eliminate waste in the company by 2025.

What’s even more staggering are the results coming out of this ambitious project. In 2018, Kroger donated 316 million meals in food and funds and saw a 76 percent overall waste diversion, which literally means keeping food, cardboard and plastics out of the garbage. The company rescued 100 million pounds of food, and more than 2 million pounds of waste was diverted from landfills by composting food waste that wasn’t suitable for donations, and recycling cardboard, plastics and other materials.

Kroger also announced that by 2025 they will have completely phased out of single-use plastic bags in all stores across the company, and introduced the $10 million innovation fund through the Kroger Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation.

In addition to changes within its stores, Kroger has also increased its financial contributions to nonprofits working in the hunger and food waste and sustainability space with 60 percent of the company’s local giving being in this area in 2018.

Some of the non-profits Kroger has supported locally through the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative include Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Nashville Rescue Mission, The Nashville Food Project, the Salvation Army, Bridge Ministry, The Little Pantry That Could, Mid-Cumberland Meals on Wheels, Urban Green Lab, Turnip Green Creative Reuse and the Society of St. Andrew just to name a few.

These efforts are not going unnoticed. Kroger made its debut at No. 6 on the Forbes list of companies changing the world, and Oprah Winfrey herself participated in the one year Zero Hunger | Zero Waste celebration event Kroger held last year.

“We have made great progress, but we are just getting started,” Melissa adds. “This is a social impact plan because we know we can’t do it alone. We must engage our community, our customers, our policymakers, the media and others around the issues of food waste and hunger.”

In 2018, Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative was responsible for rescuing 100 million pounds of food, and more than 2 million pounds of waste was diverted from landfills by composting food waste that wasn’t suitable for donations.

Last year, Kroger partnered with StyleBlueprint to award $5,000 to a local nonprofit that is making a difference with hunger in the Nashville community. The winner of the 2018 Kroger $5,000 Charity Giveaway was The Little Pantry That Could, which provides produce and shelf-stable items free of charge on a weekly basis to anyone in need — no questions asked. It is set up like a free grocery store that distributes food items every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at their pantry location at 2011 24th Ave. North, Nashville, TN 37208.

Stacy Downey, founder of The Little Pantry That Could, says that winning the $5,000 made an enormous impact on her nonprofit, which survives solely on donations. “We took every penny of that money and spent it on filling our shelves with food for families,” Stacy shares.

She estimates the donation provided 4,200 food items that fed more than 215 families.

Kroger and StyleBlueprint are joining forces again this year for the 2019 $5,000 Charity Giveaway. Stay tuned for details. Meantime, click HERE for the latest news and releases about Zero Hunger | Zero Waste.

This article is sponsored by Kroger.