As King Soopers moves into its one-year anniversary of the Zero Hunger, Zero Waste program, its ambitions to end hunger and food waste continue to grow.
“Zero Hunger, Zero Waste is our bold plan to end hunger in our communities and eliminate waste across our company by 2025,” said Adam Williamson, Corporate Affairs, King Soopers and City Market. “As American’s grocer, we have the scale, local connections and dedicated team to tackle this challenge.”
Part of those local connections include five food banks that King Soopers partners with to ensure that the families in need receiving donated meals are getting them through trusted channels.
According to Williamson, King Soopers’ has a partnership with Food Bank of the Rockies, which serves much of the state and covers 100 King Sooper’s stores. In Colorado Springs, the grocer partners with Care and Share and in Boulder with Community Food Share. In Northern Colorado, King Soopers has partnered with the Weld and Larimer County Food Banks.
“Those five cover all of Colorado,” said Williamson of the expanse of coverage through each of the food banks. “They share the same food safety standards as we do. They will pick up from us three to four times a week and we will have their items ready.”
Among those items, Williamson said King Soopers goes far beyond the center aisle perishables that are regularly associated with food donations.
“We make sure everything is edible,” Williamson said. “We supply produce, meat and dairy. We make sure that we are freezing our meat by its sale-by date and on the produce side as it turns we will mark it down and then within 24 hours put in the back for pick up from a local food bank.”
In 2017, the inaugural year of Zero Hunger, Zero Waste, King Soopers was able to donate over 8.5 million meals to food banks for those in need across Colorado. They are now looking to increase that total to 1 billion meals by 2020 and 3 billion meals by 2025 - the “moon shot goal” according to Williamson.
As for zero waste, Williamson added that King Soopers has several waste diversion programs in place including recycling and composting to help the company achieve its zero waste goal by the year 2020.
“Items that can’t be donated to food banks are composted,” Williamson said. “We have recycling programs for cardboard, plastics, even for our consumers after that last swipe, their gift cards can be recycled.”
In fact, Williamson added, just this year 2,500 pounds of gift cards have been recycled. Similarly, 223 million plastic grocery bags have been recycled. As part of the company’s long-term waste reduction plans, those grocery bags will be gone by 2025. Williamson said that the store would like to go to strictly reusable bags by that time.
Much of the ambition behind Zero Food, Zero Waste comes from the fact that 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is thrown away, yet studies suggest that 1 in 8 Americans struggle with hunger and 1 in 6 children go without a meal every day.
“We need to make sure we are doing our part in our own homes,” Williamson said about what Coloradoans can do to avoid food waste. “We can donate to local food banks or food pantries. There are lots of folks in need right now and the only way to achieve our goal of 3 billion by 2025 is to partner together.”
Fortune Magazine recognized Kroger for the Zero Hunger, Zero Waste program by listing it 6th on its Fortune Change the World list of 2018. A list dedicated to companies that are using the profit motive to help the planet and tackle social problems.
“This is a big deal for us,” Williamson said of the debuting on the list, now in its fourth year. “To go from not being on the list, to debuting at 6th because of Zero Hunger, Zero Waste, it shows that we are part of changing the world because of these efforts.”