Eagle County City Market stores embrace Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative | VailDaily.com

Eagle County City Market stores embrace Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative

EAGLE — Ever wonder what it means when someone announces it is time for a "code green" over the Eagle City Market intercom system?

It means someone in this community isn't going hungry.

That "code green" announcement is a signal from the store managers for City Market workers to haul their trash to the back of the store. Once trash bags are deposited, the manager on duty checks out the clear plastic containers to make sure what is inside is really trash. Any food stuffs that are still consumable don't make it to the dumpster at the store.

Store manager Dave Betts admits it can be a pain, looking through all that trash. But it's something he is willing to do because throwing away food when there are people going hungry is a national travesty.

Betts can't solve that national problem, but as the manager of Eagle's only supermarket, he can make a difference locally.

"We donate all of our baked goods that don't sell to the senior center, and we donate salvageable food to the Food Banks of the Rockies," Betts said.

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While the store is already working hard to make sure it doesn't waste food, a new company program is urging even more attention to the issue.

Zero Hunger | Zero Waste

Eagle County's City Market stores, along with other City Market and King Soopers supermarkets in Colorado and Kroger Co. stores throughout the United States, are part of a new, national effort aimed at ending hunger in the communities Kroger serves and eliminating waste across the company by 2025.

"No family in a community we serve should ever go hungry, and no food in a store we operate should ever go to waste," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO.

According to Kroger, across the United States, 42 million Americans struggle with hunger. At the same time, an estimated 72 billion pounds of food end up in a landfill every year.

"More than 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. each year goes unconsumed, while one in eight people struggle with hunger. That just doesn't make sense," McMullen said. "As America's grocer and one of the largest retailers in the world, we are committed to doing something about it."

Company officials said they want to hear from people in supermarkets across the country to find workable solutions to the country's hunger and waste challenges.

"We don't — and we won't — have all the answers," said Dennis Gibson, president of King Soopers. "While we are clear about our vision, we are flexible about how to get there. We are inviting everyone who is passionate about feeding people and protecting the planet to join us in our mission to end hunger in our communities and eliminate waste across our company by 2025."

Providing food to the hungry isn't a new mission for the company. Kroger has been feeding people facing hunger since the company's inception in 1883, and as a founding partner of Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief organization, Kroger has long-standing partnerships with food banks across the country. Today, Kroger store associates are instructed to identify meat, produce, dairy and bakery items for donation that remain safe, fresh and nutritious. Last year, Kroger donated the equivalent of 46 million fresh meals to local food banks, in addition to dry goods and shelf-stable groceries.

Think global, act local

As his store embraces the company challenge, Betts wants to partner with local groups.

"I am in the process right now of looking for ways to positively affect our community," he said. He is particularly interested in helping with a program where school kids who live in food-insecure households are sent home with backpacks filled with nutritious, family meals.

Betts wants to spend some time volunteering at the local food bank, operated out of the Methodist church in Eagle, so he can get a better idea about how it operates and what it needs.

"We are doing a lot already, and we are going to get better and better about it," Betts pledged.

Similar pledges are happening in Kroger stores throughout the country.

"Zero Hunger | Zero Waste is a vision for the America we want to help create with our associates, customers and stakeholders," McMullen said. "This is our moonshot."

Follow the company's efforts and join the conversation at thekrogerco.com and #ZeroHungerZeroWaste.

Zero Hunger | Zero Waste

A plan to end hunger and eliminate waste in Kroger communities

Kroger’s new program is designed to transform communities by 2025, improving the health of customers and associates, making balanced food more readily available, sharing food waste solutions with other retailers, restaurants and local governments and working within Kroger’s supply chain to reduce farm-to-fork food loss.

Kroger Co. is making the following commitments as part of its new Zero Hunger | Zero Waste program:

• Establish a $10 million innovation fund within The Kroger Co. Foundation to address hunger and food waste and the paradoxical relationship between the two.

• Accelerate food donations to provide 3 billion meals by 2025 to feed people facing hunger in the places Kroger calls home.

• Donate not just more food, but more balanced meals via Kroger’s industry-leading fresh food donations program.

• Advocate for public policy solutions to address hunger and to shorten the line at food banks, lobbying for continued funding of federal hunger relief programs and for public policies that help communities prevent and divert waste from landfills, including recycling, composting and sustainability programs that can be scaled for maximum impact.

• Eliminate food waste by 2025 through prevention, donation and diversion efforts in all stores and across Kroger.

• Develop transparent reporting on food loss and waste.

• Join forces with both new and long-standing partners to identify opportunities, leverage data and determine where by working together Kroger can help the most.