Sunny Parr, Director, The Kroger Foundation | #corporatesecurity | #businesssecurity | #

One of the nation’s largest grocers, The Kroger Co. is on the front lines of providing food and other supplies to the millions of consumers it serves with over 2,700 stores in 35 states and online.

Until early March, much of Sunny Parr’s focus was on the foundation’s signature program via The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation.  But since then, she has been integral to implementing the company’s efforts to fight the pandemic.  

Q: How have you pivoted the program to respond to the COVID-19 crisis?

A:   Kroger has a long history of standing by our communities in times of need. We believe our most important mission during COVID-19 is keeping our stores open, clean and stocked for our customers and communities – providing access to affordable fresh food every day. 

Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan is more relevant than ever. We remain focused on nourishing families and expanding the capacity of local partners to improve food security. Food banks are trying to procure more shelf-stable food; at the same time, perishable food intended for foodservice, hospitality and entertainment/sporting events could go to waste.

Among the initiatives along these lines are:

Food Rescue – Where we have surplus food, Kroger associates continue to donate perishable items to local food banks through our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Food Rescue program. If food bank partners are unable to do retail pickups, we’re considering other agencies.

Milk Rescue – The Kroger Dairy souring and manufacturing team is rapidly scaling up a pilot with Dairy Farmers of America to rescue surplus raw milk – donated by dairy co-ops and processed by Kroger-operated dairies at no cost – and direct it to food banks and families in need. The pilot in Michigan is expanding to our other markets and Kroger dairies.

Philanthropy – G.O. and division teams continue to direct donations to help our communities recover. The Kroger Foundation office has expedited grant-making for both The Kroger Co. Foundation, our private foundation, and The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation – our new public charity – to direct support to our communities quickly. We’ve also launched an Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund to raise donations and rapidly deploy them to food-insecurity communities.

Q:  Are there other COVID-19 activities at Kroger that you would like to highlight?

This week we announced that Kroger Health, the healthcare division of The Kroger Co., plans to expand its drive-thru COVID-19 testing model to 50 locations in more than 12 states to perform up to 100,000 tests by the end of May. To date, Kroger Health has performed nearly 8,000 tests in 30 locations in Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The company has also launched a pilot for site-specific testing for company associates in Michigan and Colorado. 

Also this week, all associates were required to wear masks. We have provided masks for all our store associates to wear, and require associates to wear them in locations where they are not already mandated. Our associates are also welcome to bring their own suitable masks or facial coverings to work if they prefer. We recognize that some associates, due to medical reasons or other circumstances, may not be able to wear a mask. Such situations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. We are sourcing face shields to provide to those associates and will also explore other potential options, as needed.

Earlier in April, Kroger announced the acceptance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for Pickup. The low-contact, convenient service allows customers to shop online for groceries on Kroger.com or the Kroger app and pick up their order curbside at a nearby Kroger store. 

Q: What are some of the lessons you have learned along the way and how are you sharing them?

Lessons are being learned in every corner of our business. Learning from these unprecedented times is key to our success. 

Last week, we launched the first installment of Sharing What We’ve Learned: A Blueprint for Businesses—a resource with recommendations, learnings and more, to help businesses take proactive measures to reopen safely while continuing to flatten the curve. To live Our Values of integrity, honesty, diversity, inclusion, safety and respect means we lead by example and remain transparent. In this spirit, we want to share what we’ve learned and do what we can to support our communities and help businesses begin to reopen safely in America. To view the document, visit KrogerBlueprint.com.  

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