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The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that as food retailers and manufacturers achieve greater supply chain efficiency, there is a cultural downside – less food that can be delivered to the nation’s food banks, which report “receiving fewer donations in the form of imperfectly packaged canned and boxed edibles.”

“To make up for the product loss, food banks are seeking ways to raise money to buy more food,” the Journal writes. “They are also looking for new types of food, including perishables. Some food banks are hiring trucks to pick up food directly from farms.

“The food-bank shortages are nationwide. The Community Food Banks of South Dakota in Sioux Falls, S.D., received 35% fewer donations from grocery stores last year. The Greater Chicago Food Depository, the nation's fourth-largest food bank in terms of the amount of food distributed, has 12% fewer donations this year than last

“Many food banks have made up for the loss of salvage products by buying food through donation drives, but others are giving out less food overall.”

One solution to the problem actually has been found by retailers, who say that “they have found new -- and some say better -- ways to contribute to food banks. For example, many grocery stores will donate money so a food bank can purchase its own food.

“Safeway says its donations of cash and food to food banks amounted to $110 million last year, up from $109 million the year before. And supermarket chain Supervalu Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minn., says that contributions to food banks ‘have remained steady or continued to increase in many areas of the country’.”
KC's View:
This seems like a good place to point out a charity campaign that was unveiled last week – the Great American Bake Off, which has been designed by Share Our Strength to address the problem of childhood hunger in America. To quote from the press release:

“The Great American Bake Sale is a national campaign that mobilizes people of all ages to help end childhood hunger in America by holding bake sales in their communities. Since 2003, the campaign has raised over $3 million and engaged more than 1 million people in baking, selling or buying goods.

"’The Great American Bake Sale campaign provides a simple, exciting way for people of all ages to join the fight to end childhood hunger in America,’ said Billy Shore, Share Our Strength's founder and executive director. ‘The campaign builds on the long American tradition of holding bake sales as community fundraisers. By engaging everyone to hold a bake sale, the Great American Bake Sale will help ensure that the 12.4 million American children at risk of hunger have the healthy, nutritious foods they need to develop their full potential."

“Funds raised through Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale are granted to local organizations that work to increase participation by low- income children in summer and after-school feeding programs and to support nutrition education programs for low-income families. Funds will be used to support such efforts as purchasing equipment and utensils to serve children meals, covering the cost of opening additional meal sites, hiring additional staff to serve children meals, or paying for outreach that informs parents about the availability of summer meals and after school snacks.”

The campaign will be getting a lot more publicity than in past years because of a partnership with the Food Network, which has enlisted the help of stars like Rachael Ray in the cause.

It seems to us that this is the kind of program that retailer sought to be getting involved with, and not just because it is a great way to cement relationships within local communities. It also seems like a really good thing to do.