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Albertsons Companies – the owner of 21 regional grocery brands in the U.S. – has announced a $50 million commitment to hunger relief in both the District of Columbia and the 34 states it serves. The multimillion-dollar commitment is in addition to previous pledges the company has made amid the coronavirus pandemic and will go through its Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief campaign.
“This time of extraordinary need demands an unprecedented response,” President and CEO Vivek Sankaran in a company statement Wednesday. “The basic needs of many of our neighbors have been threatened like never before.”
“With a strong presence in more than 2,200 communities, we are committing an additional $50 million to help ensure that people in our neighborhoods have access to the healthy food they need,” he continued. “We are hopeful that more companies will join us and use our broad hunger relief network to distribute help locally, where it is needed most.”
The additional funds the grocery giant is putting into its relief network are joining Albertsons Companies’ already pledged $3 million to a hunger relief fundraiser, which is meant to go to “neighbors affected by the COVID-19 crisis.”
Initiatives the money will help support include emergency meal distribution programs at local schools, senior centers and other programs that provide meals or food to the elderly. Neighborhood food banks will also be stocked so each organization can respond to the increasing demand these uncertain times have brought about.
Additionally, the company said it has received more than $13 million in donations from customers visiting its regional stores, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s, Star-Market, Tom Thumb and Randalls.
Outside of food relief, Albertsons Companies is continuing its Appreciation Pay program, which provides hourly frontline workers an additional $2 per hour beyond regular pay and overtime and provides salaried frontline workers an additional $100 per week.
The program will be in place until at least May 2.
In the last six weeks of the pandemic, Albertsons Companies has hired more than 50,000 people who have been furloughed by partnered hotels, restaurants, airlines, retail stores and distribution companies. So far, the grocery giant is partnered with “more than 35 companies to help keep Americans working.”
Other ways the company is doing its part to fight off the coronavirus include implementing safety measures such as enhanced cleaning protocols, social distancing markers, one-way aisles, limited store occupancy, provided masks for employees, health screenings and Plexiglass barriers.
Earlier this month, Albertsons made news for its team-up with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which has moved both organizations to fight for temporary reclassification for grocery store workers as “extended first responders” or “emergency personnel.” The designation would ensure these essential workers, who are critical to the American food supply chain, will be prioritized for coronavirus testing and provided personal protection equipment.