BEND, OR -- One of the largest grocery chains in the country is finally participating in an Oregon Food Bank program that provides fresh meat and produce to families in need. Fresh Alliance has worked with a number of stores for the past 15 years, but Safeway’s previous corporate leaders believed it wasn’t good for business. "With the merger [with Albertsons] and a lot of different changes in the corporate world, it allowed us to take advantage of it and get Safeway on board," Jay Feeney tells KBND News.
Feeney with Albertsons/Safeway says, "We have 111 Safeways in our Portland division – southwest Washington and all of Oregon – and we have about 18 left that we have to roll it out to." Feeney is training employees at the six stores in Madras, Redmond, Bend and Burns, this week. "The food stays in their community, so it helps the community around the store. Aside from being the right thing to do, we can get some better tax credits for it, and we also can get a reduction in waste from composting to trash." And, he says the program attracts new customers. "What we’re finding too, is a family that has jobs that has just run out of money, and they come to the food bank to get food to take care of themselves at the end of the month, they see the Safeway label on it and they come back and start shopping with us because we helped them out in their time of need."
With the addition of the local Safeway stores, Feeney expects an extra 60,000 pounds of food to go to NeighborImpact
, each year. "In Central Oregon, 270,000 meals will be served from Safeway, from the poundage we donate." The Oregon Food Bank reports all major Central Oregon grocery stores now participate in the Fresh Alliance program.
Perishable foods like milk, meat and vegetables are donated as they reach their "use by" date and can no longer be sold in stores. Store employees are trained on safe food standards to transport items to food banks, which quickly distribute food to needy families.