The nation’s second-largest grocery retailer plans to use its sophisticated inventory systems to help channel food to needy people through a reclamation center at the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas.
Kroger Co. officially opened the reclamation center at the food bank in late June, but the center has been gearing up since April 9 when it received its first 28,000-pound shipment of reclaimed Kroger products, said Adrienne Scruggs, public affairs specialist at the food bank.
So far, Kroger has funneled more than 99,600 pounds of reclaimed products through the center for distribution in the food bank’s 13-county area, said Paul Wunderlich, chief safety officer for the food bank.
The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, has used reclamation processes for a number of years, said Gary Huddleston, Kroger director of consumer affairs, but those efforts involved third-party handlers.
“We saw the opportunity to reduce transportation costs and aid the North Texas Food Bank by installing a reclaim process at the NTFB,” Huddleston said June 26 during the opening ceremonies. “Kroger reduces some costs and the Food Bank benefits with donated product.”
Wunderlich said Kroger is the only retailer currently with a reclamation program set up in this manner with the food bank.
Kroger is in the testing phase for the reclamation concept, with plans to initiate similar programs at food banks in Houston and Memphis. Huddleston said the company will gauge the success of the Texas center by the amount of pounds of reclaimed product from its Dallas-Fort Worth stores.
“Every reclaimed pound is a pound not in a landfill and a pound of food for a family in need,” he said.
Huddleston said the company’s scanning and inventory systems are an important factor in the administration of the reclamation program.
“Capturing information on reclaimed product is an important aspect of the process,” Huddleston said. “Kroger has installed the scanning technology at the food bank to capture the critical information to receive the proper credit from vendors and manage inventory.”
In addition to the reclamation center concept, which deals with non-perishable products, Kroger also donates fresh produce and meat through a program called the Perishable Donation Partnership. When surplus produce is available Kroger holds it for the food bank to pick up and distribute, Huddleston said.
Scruggs said fresh produce is a special treat for clients who most often receive non-perishable dry goods, canned goods, personal hygiene items and household products.
The North Texas Food Bank, which is marking its 30th anniversary this year, provides 92,000 individual meals each day, Scruggs said. She said the Kroger reclamation program is expected to annually provide up to 2 million pounds of additional food and products to the food bank that it would have not otherwise been able to access.