Every day the Feeding Florida network is supported and powered to distribute more at the local level thanks to local, statewide, and national retail partnerships within the Feeding America network. We partner with retailers across the country – including Walmart, Sam’s Clubs, Food Lion, Kroger, Publix, Target, and BJ’s Wholesale Club – to access store donations. Last year alone, 1.4 billion pounds of retail donations reached member food banks nationwide and ultimately people in need of food assistance.
As retail store donation programs grow throughout the Feeding America network, food bank members have looked to partner agencies, like food pantries and meal programs, to provide support by becoming approved pickup agents. Our research shows that retailers partnered directly with food pantries and meal programs typically have more frequent pickups and higher yields, making these relationships key to success. To appoint these pickup agents, member food banks cast a critical eye on their network of charity partners and only select partners that are capable of maintaining high standards. Food banks look for certain attributes: the capability to safely handle frozen, refrigerated and dry food; a commitment to consistency and providing stellar customer service; willingness to be trained on safe food handling; and distribution to the people we serve on at least a monthly basis. Considering some food banks coordinate with more than 400 retail stores, this ability to build localized partnerships ensures that every store is utilized and every community served.
Programs are currently being piloted to bring the Fresh Access Bucks program into the retail space. More information to come as the project launches in January 2019 in Riveria Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida.