As Director of Public Affairs for Safeway’s Eastern Division and Board Chair of the Capital Area Food Bank, I’m asked: What’s the business case for investing in hunger solutions? Here is my response: It’s basic – Hunger undermines our shared goals for a healthy, prosperous community.
Take child hunger, for example. Child hunger is a health problem, an education problem and a workforce problem.
- Poor nutrition in the early years of life has irreversible effects on a child’s long-term physical growth, cognitive and emotional development. Research shows child hunger leads to greater health care costs for families.
- Kids that are hungry can’t concentrate in the classroom. They have lower academic achievement.
- Research by the Center for American Progress estimated that hunger costs our country at least $167.5 billion due to losses in economic productivity, poor education outcomes, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity to feed families.
Although child hunger is entirely preventable and unnecessary, one in five kids in the U.S. lives in food insecure households.
What is even more unacceptable is that child hunger is an even greater problem in our nation’s capital. According to Feeding America, Washington, D.C. has the second highest child food insecurity rate in the country, with 1 in 3 kids living in food insecure households.
I’ve made a person commitment to the mission of the Capital Area Food Bank, which leads efforts to reduce hunger throughout Greater Washington. But my role as Board Chair is more than a personal commitment for me. It makes economic sense.
Safeway is committed to being part of the solution for a hunger-free D.C. because it will make our region healthier and more prosperous.
Here’s what Safeway is doing to be part of the solution for hunger-free DC:
- We’ve teamed up with our customers. Safeway’s annual “Round up Hunger” campaign proves that a little change can go a long way to combat hunger. By offering customers in the Washington and Baltimore area the chance to “round up” their grocery bill to the nearest dollar, Safeway raised $151,000 in change for the Capital Area Food Bank in 2012.
- We donate food. In addition to hosting several food drives at our stores including Harvest for the Hungry, Scouting for Food and Food Drive 9, Safeway donated food valued at approximately $3 million last year. That total will increase this year with our stores now donating close-dated dairy and frozen food directly to the food bank’s member agencies.
- We collaborate with fierce competitors. That’s right: Safeway, Giant, Harris Teeter, Shoppers and Whole Foods all support the food bank and are represented on the Board of the Capital Area Food Bank. As a board, we have set goals to lower salt and sugar in the food we distribute, and welcome help from the community with healthy food drives.
This September for hunger action month, I invite Washington business leaders to join the conversation about hunger by sharing ideas about how Greater Washington can come together to solve hunger.