Supermarket Wellness Watch: From Kroger to Hannaford, retailers embrace family meals efforts

BY David Orgel

You are what you eat. Or is it who you eat with?

Well, it turns out both matter!

The food retail industry is about to enter the third year of the September National Family Meals Month program. So as a curtain raiser, it’s a good time to assess the diverse retailer efforts of last year – from Kroger and The Little Clinic to Hannaford — and take a peek at a couple of upcoming initiatives

But first, what is National Family Meals Month, and given this is a blog about supermarket wellness, how does this program tie in?

This campaign, sponsored by Food Marketing Institute Foundation, aims to “bring families back to the table and share one more meal at home per week.” It involves retailers, suppliers and community partners and takes a broad view of family to include “different shapes, sizes and forms, even your work family,” said Susan Borra, chief health and wellness officer and executive director of the FMI Foundation.  

National Family Meals Month promotes social interaction, and much of the emphasis is on healthy eating. In fact, people who eat more family meals together tend to have healthier diets than other groups, said Borra, a registered dietitian.

A number of innovative retailer efforts from last year were profiled in a recently introduced best practices guide, and many of these involved health and wellness tie-ins.

Kroger presented a multi-tiered, omnichannel program, which included leveraging The Little Clinic to discuss family meals with patients and to distribute an educational booklet with recipes and tips.

The company will follow up this year with another multi-pronged approach, according to a spokesperson. The Little Clinic, which operates 220 locations, will distribute a recipe booklet to patients that encourages families to cook together and provides nutrition resources. It will also promote the event through its blog and patient e-newsletter.

Moreover, the clinic’s dietitians are hosting four wellness events focused on the meal month theme. “The dietitians will show families the value of cooking together and experimenting with healthful ingredients in the kitchen,” according to the spokesperson. Several Kroger dietitians will also be holding food and wine events.

Hannaford, part of Ahold Delhaize, last year unveiled a tie-in program called “Good Ideas for Busy Families,” which built on its existing “Guiding Stars Good Ideas” wellness initiative. The effort included in-store signage featuring family-friendly and healthful recipe ideas and special product pricing. The company developed a booklet that outlined healthy shopping tips and recipe ideas for each store department, and leveraged dietitians for nutrition demos, said Sue Till, manager of Hannaford’s Healthy Living program.

This year Hannaford will employ a wide range of strategies to support its activities, including social media, web, fresh magazine, in-store signage, coupons and its weekly flyer. 

The involvement of registered dietitians was a signature aspect of retailer efforts in last year’s program. Here are a few other examples:

  • Price Chopper: Dietitians and educators in some 26 stores conducted events that included taste testing and recipes.
  • Wakefern Food: Dietitians engaged customers both in-store and on social media to raise the profile of the program.
  • Skogen’s Festival Foods: Registered dietitians were promoted as “Mealtime Mentors” who can suggest quick meals and healthy eating ideas.

There’s a lot of room for further retailer innovation in this annual campaign, and for other retail channels to get involved. Moreover, it’s a unique way to cross-merchandise and brand the rest of a retailer’s operation and services.

It seems that retailers are hoping to make it a September to remember.

David Orgel is an award-winning business journalist, industry expert and speaker who was the longtime chief editor and content leader of Supermarket News. He is currently the principal of David Orgel Consulting, delivering strategic content and counsel to the food, retail and CPG industries. To read last month’s blog post, click here



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Meijer supports local pantries through fall Simply Give program

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – On the heels of its record-setting spring efforts, the Meijer fall Simply Give campaign will kick off this weekend to help stock the shelves of its food pantry partners throughout the Midwest.

“Participation in our Simply Give program continues to grow, thanks to the generosity of our customers and dedicated food pantry partners,” said Cathy Cooper, senior director of community partnerships and giving, Meijer. “We are committed to helping end the problem of food insecurity in the Midwest.”

The fall campaign will run through Sept. 16, helping restock the shelves of food pantries that were heavily utilized during the summer months.

In addition, on Sept. 1-2, Meijer will double match customers’ donations up to $25,000 per pantry. That means for every $10 donation card purchased, Meijer will contribute $20, resulting in a total $30 donation.

During each Simply Give campaign, customers are encouraged to purchase a $10 Simply Give donation card upon checkout. Once purchased, the donation is converted into a Meijer Food-Only Gift Card and donated directly to the local food pantry selected by the store for that campaign.

Simply Give donation cards can be purchased at all 235 Meijer stores and will benefit a local food pantry.

Since Meijer began its Simply Give program in 2008, nearly $32 million – or 352 million meals – has been donated to help neighborhood food pantries keep their shelves stocked throughout the year. According to Feeding America, $1 equals 11 meals.

The program runs three times a year when food pantries need it the most: spring, fall and holiday.

“Hunger is a problem that occurs in all of our communities, which is why the funds generated from Simply Give stay local,” Cooper said. “The Simply Give program gives everyone a chance to work toward ensuring no one has to go without food.”


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At 75, Lewis more relevant than ever

BY Rob Eder

I never understood people who root against the hometown team. I once knew a New York Yankees fan that was pulling for the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. (Are you kidding me — the FLIPPING Red Sox?!) I bet him $50 just on principal; what kind of demented Yankees fan could ever root for the Red Sox to beat another New York team? Surely, this is the kind of sick lunatic that the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA and just about every federal and local law enforcement agency in the country should have on a watch list.

In this issue, Drug Store News gives it up for Sioux Falls’ own Lewis Drug, which this year celebrates its 75th year in operation. “People recognize us as the home team,” Lewis president and CEO Mark Griffin told DSN.

“I think ‘locally owned’ still resonates with a good percentage of consumers,” added SVP of merchandise and marketing Bob Meyer.

To be sure, there is a lot more than just the blind loyalty of a core group of “homer” fans that has kept Lewis a strong and growing force in the markets it competes in. Today, Lewis Drug is as relevant to its core shopper as it has ever been. The company has done it through a slightly eclectic mix by drug store standards — Lewis sells more garden supplies than the local Home Depot and Lowe’s stores, is one of the largest dealers of Weber grills in its markets and operates massive pet departments that are giving nearby PetSmarts a run for their money, according to company executives — and a close relationship with local customers. Lewis is not just in the community, it is an integral part of the community.

“We want customers to care about us as a local business, a family business and one that’s very connected and gives back to the community,” offered Lewis VP Nikki Griffin.

Lewis’s connection to the community runs deep. Some of the bigger social programs it has initiated over the years include an annual coat drive for homeless and low-income adults, now in its third year; an annual charity golf tournament, which this year raised $65,000 for local charities; the Lewis Cares Foundation, which was created by Meyer, and partners the chain with its vendors to pledge a percentage of revenues from the purchase of certain products; and a Lewis garden center promotion that provides one needy family with a complete backyard makeover.

If you ask Mark Griffin, he’ll tell you that Lewis’s connection to the community and its hometown customers is stronger than it has been in many years. “There was a period when that wasn’t important, when the big boxes opened up and the message was just price, price, price,” Griffin said. “Now, people value the home team … and I think that’s gaining ground again.”


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