The COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and storms and wildfires in 2020 remind us of the profound challenges facing communities across the U.S. Despite some progress in recent decades, many people still live precariously close to the edge, and our planet’s climate is changing in front of us.
It’s up to all of us to apply the lessons learned this year to shape a brighter future for families and our food system.
In 2017, when we introduced Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan, we couldn’t have predicted this year’s events. Our focus was the absurdity in our food system – that we throw away 40% of food produced while so many go hungry. Our national partners at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) helped us link disparities in global food production, access and waste to conservation challenges facing the planet’s land, oceans and wildlife.
As a company, we took a hard look at our operational data on food rescue and waste, set targets (like donating 1 billion meals by 2020 and achieving zero food waste by 2025), established measures, and took action. Two years later, our 2020 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report outlines how we’ve done so far. With focused effort, we achieved our 2020 goal to direct 1 billion meals and fresh surplus food to our communities, reduced retail food waste generated by 13%, and improved food waste diversion from landfill by nearly 18%.
We’ve made tremendous progress, but still we have a long journey to zero. We’re leaning in with multiple partners, including WWF, ReFED, Feeding America, No Kid Hungry, the World Resources Institute and more. We’re engaging our supply chain in Zero Hunger | Zero Waste to accelerate progress toward UN SDG Target 12.3 – to halve global food waste by 2030. And we’re engaging our associates, customers and youth across the U.S. to raise awareness and scale our positive impact. Internally, Kroger is integrating Zero Hunger | Zero Waste goals into our lines of business to further operationalize and manage surplus food, including rescue, recovery and recycling programs.
We also established The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity designed to help fill the gap in philanthropic funding need to end hunger and waste. In 2019, the Foundation directed $10 million in grants to organizations aligned with our mission. Through its Innovation Fund, the Foundation also directs philanthropic investments to entrepreneurs with creative solutions or proven ideas ready to scale. Last year, this included $1 million in funding for seven grantees helping recover, redistribute or transform surplus food. The Innovation Fund’s second open call for proposals is planned for early 2021. Read more here.
The Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation also directed $1 million to WWF’s Food Waste Warrior program, their curriculum for K-12 students that brings conservation into the classroom (live or virtually) and cafeteria. This grant expands the dedicated staff and teachers trained to capture data and drive food waste reduction – making the cafeteria a place for learning.
Working together, we will create a future with zero hunger and zero waste.
The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of WWF.