Community Service Spotlight: C-store Industry Continues to Rally Together to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts

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Community Service Spotlight: C-store Industry Continues to Rally Together to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts

By Danielle Romano - 05/06/2020

NATIONAL REPORT — As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to disrupt every area of modern-day life, convenience store retailers and suppliers know that giving back through community service efforts and charitable donations is a positive force that will keep the channel moving forward.

In this special edition of Community Service Spotlight, Convenience Store News highlights these philanthropic efforts. Here are the latest company spotlights:

Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch InBev producing and distributing hand sanitizer to accommodate the growing need across the U.S. Its flagship breweries in Baldwinsville, N.Y., and Los Angeles are producing hand sanitizer alongside their partners at Cutwater Spirits in San Diego and Devils Backbone Brewing Co. in Roseland, Va.

The initial production run from the Baldwinsville brewery totaled nearly 90,000 eight-ounce bottles and was delivered to support local communities and relief efforts in California, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Additional supplies of hand sanitizer from the upstate New York brewery are being delivered to emergency management agencies, food banks, and healthcare systems in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Washington, D.C.

"Our communities and our people are incredibly resilient," said Adam Warrington, vice president of better world at Anheuser-Busch. "By providing resources to those on the front lines, we are committed to doing our part to support the individuals across the country who truly represent the best of the American spirit."

To date, the company's flagship breweries have provided more than 175,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to 10 states and Washington, D.C.

Casey's General Stores

Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey's donated more than 30,000 pounds of food, equal to 25,000 meals, to the Food Bank of Iowa, as well as more than 7,700 pounds of food to the Terre Haute Catholic Charities.

Casey's provided the following specific food items: Eckrich pre-sliced bologna, Eckrich pre-sliced salami, pre-sliced roast beef sandwiches, pre-sliced turkey sandwiches, egg salad, tuna salad, and chicken salad.

"At Casey's, we see it as part of our mission to lift up the communities we call home, especially in times of need," said Darren Rebelez, CEO of Casey's General Stores. "We're heartened to be able to provide 25,000 meals worth of food to those who need it here in Central Iowa and remind the community that we’re here for good."

Chevron

Chevron donated $1 million in Chevron and Texaco gift cards to first responders and food banks in the communities it serves. The donation is part of more than $12 million Chevron has committed around the world to COVID-19 response efforts.

Additional initiatives from the company include:

  • A $500,000 donation to DonorsChoose's Keep Kids Learning, which provides teachers in highest-need schools with grants to purchase essential remote-learning supplies for students.
  • Donations to foodbanks in California, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia to support the distribution of emergency food.
  • In its home state of California, ExxonMobil donated 100,000 surgical masks to local hospitals.
  • Chevron-funded Fab Labs are aiming to produce more than 20,000 face shields and masks for hospitals, nursing homes and first responders.
  • Efforts to support coordinated community relief efforts, including the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund in Texas and the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce in Mississippi.

"As part of our COVID-19 response efforts, Chevron is helping fuel organizations providing health and medical services, charitable food supplies, and local first responders. We appreciate the selfless work and dedication of so many helping to fight this pandemic," said Andy Walz, president of Americas Products at Chevron. "We hope this demonstrates how grateful we are for their tireless efforts during this challenging time."

"The gift cards will go to non-profits in our major operating areas in the United States, including around our refineries, in major retail markets, and around our field operations. The goal is to support non-profit employees who need fuel during the crisis and thank first responders for their efforts," he added.

Clipper Petroleum

The Clipper Petroleum Foundation is providing $40,000 of unrestricted grants to five nonprofits in the North Georgia area whose missions are to provide food and/or medical services, including: The Georgia Mountain Food Bank, Straight Street Ministries Backpack Love, The Good News Clinic, White County BackPack Buddies and Oconee Area Resource Council.

"Given the challenges and unprecedented demand that these organizations are having due to COVID-19, our board was compelled to take action," said Haley Bower, director of the Clipper Petroleum Foundation.

ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil is committed to being part of the solution to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and committed to producing the materials used in disinfectants and medical masks to keep communities and healthcare workers safe when combatting this pandemic by maximizing the production of these raw materials at its chemical plants.

The company is a leading U.S. producer of isopropyl alcohol (IPA), used in disinfectants and hand sanitizer, and manufactures specialized polypropylene, used in medical masks and gowns. It donated isopropyl alcohol to the state of Louisiana, which will be used to make nearly 100,000 8-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer.

ExxonMobil and the Global Center for Medical Innovation are also helping to rapidly redesign and manufacture reusable personal protection equipment for health care workers. In this design, the filters are disposable while the main component of the mask can withstand repeated sterilization, thus prolonging the life-cycle of the product and addressing shortages of N95 masks. 

Additionally, the company is providing more than $600,000 in financial support and medical supplies to front line hospitals and agencies, including the Texas Medical Center, school districts and local food banks. Donations are focused in communities where ExxonMobil employees live and work, including Houston, Baton Rouge and the Permian.

In Houston, ExxonMobil donated $250,000 to local food banks, including $50,000 in gas gift cards to help deliver 1 million free meals to those in need. The company also donated $100,000 for the purchase of medical masks to Texas Medical Center member hospitals and local emergency response organizations.

In New Mexico, the company donated $100,000 to the Carlsbad Municipal School District to help facilitate the transition to online learning after schools were closed for the remainder of the year.

GAMA

Greater Austin Merchants Cooperative Association (GAMA) donated $25,000 to the Central Texas Food Bank, which will provide 200,000 meals to central Texans who are facing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"So many of our customers and their families have been affected by this pandemic," said Shane Walker, chief operating officer, GAMA. "People need help now more than ever and are having to make hard decisions for their families, while dealing with loss of income. GAMA is very pleased to be able to assist the Central Texas Food Bank and the good work they do in our community."

GAMA is a cooperative membership consisting of more than 550 convenience and gas stores in 16 counties in central Texas. GAMA also owns and operates a wholesale/sales/distribution facility.

General Mills

With urgent need for both food donations and volunteers stemming from COVID-19, General Mills kicked off two new initiatives in partnership with Feeding America:

General Mills facilities will manufacture and immediately donate $5 million worth of product, including whole grain cereals, frozen whole grain waffles and granola bars, for Feeding America to distribute within its network of 200 food banks.

General Mills is launching a paid community service program for employees. For those who are unable to perform the tasks of their usual jobs remotely during the pandemic or have extra time during their day can now sign up for volunteer work assignments at a nonprofit in their community while receiving regular pay from General Mills.

The program is intended for employees located near the company’s Minneapolis headquarters, and volunteer assignments are with nonprofits that have been deemed essential organizations given their roles helping fight hunger during the pandemic. Eligible organizations include Catholic Charities, The Food Group, Help at Your Door, Loaves and Fishes and Second Harvest Heartland (a Feeding America member food bank).

GetGo

GetGo Café & Market's food bank donation campaign eclipsed the $200,000 mark. The campaign kicked off March 26, whereby customers could donate in increments of $1, $2 or $5 either in-store at the pump.

"With so many individuals and families struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, the countless demonstrations of support throughout our communities have shown that we are truly all in this together," said GetGo spokesperson Dan Donovan. "As a food retailer, we have an immense appreciation for the inspiring work our regional food bank partners are doing and are extremely appreciative of our guests’ amazing generosity."

A campaign end date has not yet been established. All amounts raised will be donated to regional Feeding America food banks throughout GetGo's marketing areas in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Maryland.

The Hershey Co.

The Hershey Co. is committing $1 million to acquire, install and staff a new manufacturing line dedicated to the production of face masks. The new line will be capable of producing up to 45,000 masks per day and will become operational near the end of May.

"Supporting our communities in difficult times is part of our legacy, and an important value that our current employees share," said Michele Buck, president and CEO. "From the building projects that created local jobs during the Great Depression, to producing military rations during World War II, we take great pride in making a difference where we can."

Some of the other initiatives Hershey has undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Making cash donations to a variety of partners to support basic needs in communities where it operates.
  • Expanding its donation programs to support hospitals and healthcare institutions across the country.
  • Working with the professionals from the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center by making donations of N95 masks, surgical gloves and hand sanitizing stations, as well as donating warehouse space and supply chain expertise to operate a 22,000-square foot distribution center on the Hershey Co. campus to help the flow of supplies from Penn State Health to its network of providers.

Additionally, Hershey is joining forces with DC Comics to create the Super Hero Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar. Some of the first batch of the treat will be shared with real super heroes — those at the frontlines, according to the company. 

The Super Hero Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar will be available to the larger public in July.

Jelly Belly Candy Co.

Jelly Belly Candy Co. is donating 1 million bags of jelly beans to first responders via Operation Gratitude, the nation’s largest nonprofit for hands-on volunteerism in support of military, veterans and first responders. Additionally, the company is encouraging fans via social to donate, volunteer or share a digital with heroes in their community.

The donation came in time for National Jelly Bean Day on April 22nd. While usually a fun holiday for the brand, this year during such stressful times, Jelly Belly is hoping that something as simple as jelly beans can provide a small dose of positivity, a reason to smile, according to the company.

Kellogg Co.

Through its global Kellogg's Better Days purpose platform, Kellogg and its charitable funds have now donated more than $10 million in food and funds to global COVID-19 hunger relief efforts. 

In total, the company's contributions are aiding the following organizations around the world: The Global FoodBanking Network, supporting food banks across Asia, Europe and Latin America; European Food Banks Federation, supporting food banks across Europe; Feeding America, supporting 200 food bank locations across the United States and Food Banks Canada, supporting 500 food banks across Canada.

In addition to corporate contributions, Kellogg is donating to organization on the front lines, including:

  • No Kid Hungry: The organization will be making emergency grants to support local efforts like home delivered meals, pop-up meals programs, school and community pantries, backpack programs, and other steps to help reach children and families who lose access to meals.
  • United Way of Metro Chicago: Kellogg's local partners at United Way of Metro Chicago and the Chicago Community Trust launched the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, which will help provide flexible resources to community-based organizations in Cook and DuPage counties that supply essential support to the households whose incomes are most impacted by coronavirus. Kellogg's donation will support access to emergency food and basic supplies, among other things.
  • Northern Illinois Food Bank: As a presenting sponsor of the Food Bank's Foodie 5K, Kellogg's helped to pivot the event to a virtual race and raise critical funds to support the Food Bank’s operations during this time of increased need.

"Kellogg's has proudly donated over $10 million globally in food and funds to COVID-19 hunger relief efforts that are helping those most severely impacted by this pandemic, including organizations specifically supporting our Away From Home industry like No Kid Hungry," said Wendy Davidson, president, Kellogg's Away from Home. "Additionally, I've been heartened by our own team members showing a tremendous outpouring of support within their own communities during this unprecedented time."

MAPCO

MAPCO donated 2,400 N95 respirator masks to the Nashville Office of Emergency Management.

NECSEMA

The New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association (NECSEMA) is donating gift bags, which were supposed to be handed out during the organization's annual c-store trade show last month. The annual show in Springfield, Mass., was postponed due to the coronavirus.

The gift bags will support homeless shelters, community groups, hospitals, first responders and nonprofits across the state of Massachusetts. In all, 210 bags will be distributed by seven c-store branches, including:

  • Nouria Energy is donating bags of food to the United Way in Springfield.
  • Global Partners is giving away bags at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.
  • VERC Enterprises is donating bags to Our Fathers Shelter and Highland Baptist Church Food Pantry in Fitchburg.
  • Energy North Group/Haffner's is donating bags to Bread and Roses in Lawrence and Emmaus Inc. in Haverhill.
  • Colbea Enterprises is donating bags to the Fall River Police Department.
  • Cumberland Farms will be distributing bags in Brockton.
  • Yatco Energy will be distributing bags to the Worcester Food Bank.

"We are truly all in this together," NECSEMA Director Jonathan Shaer said. "During this difficult time, convenience stores are essential services where people can buy food, fuel, drinks and other items, while maintaining safe social distancing guidelines. Our hardworking employees are doing their part to keep stores safe, stocked and open, and these bags are a small contribution to help the communities we serve that are in need during this crisis."

PepsiCo

With the global health crisis driving school closures across the country, the PepsiCo Foundation launched the Give Meals, Give Hope initiative to help connect kids in need with critical food through a fundraising campaign with No Kid Hungry, a national campaign working to ensure every kid gets three meals a day during the pandemic and after, especially those in the hardest-hit communities.

PepsiCo is enlisting athletes including New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge and WNBA All-Star A'ja Wilson to rally communities to contribute to No Kid Hungry and spread the word about this important issue using #GiveMealsGiveHope hashtag. To double the support, PepsiCo matched $1 million in donations made at NoKidHungry.org/PepsiCoGives from April 13 through April 30.

Give Meals, Give Hope is one part of PepsiCo's more than $45 million effort to fight hunger and distribute 50 million meals globally amid the health crisis. In the U.S., PepsiCo is providing 20 million nutritious meals to communities in need through The PepsiCo Foundation's Food for Good program, the No Kid Hungry partnership, and a partnership with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty and USDA to reach rural students. In addition, PepsiCo has committed $3 million to support Team Rubicon's food delivery operations for partners Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, and others in 100 locations across the U.S.

"The massive scope of this issue calls for businesses, nonprofits and citizens to join forces," said Anne Fink, President of PepsiCo Foodservice. "Our Foodservice team works with thousands of schools so we're seeing firsthand the urgency to get kids the nourishment they need now more than ever. We're passionately committed to serving students and we urge everyone to give what they can to make an even bigger impact."

Pilot Co.

Pilot Co. donated $100,000 to St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund (SCF) to support professional drivers and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assistance from SCF may be in the form of direct payment to providers for household living expenses, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, vehicle payments and insurance. The fund also provides health and wellness programs for drivers, such as free vaccinations and smoking cessation assistance, with the aim toward preventing some medical illnesses and negative effects.

"Our country depends on professional drivers to keep our economy moving every day," said Jimmy Haslam, CEO of Pilot Co. "When professional drivers are in need, we want them to know they can depend on the help provided by the St. Christopher Fund. We must work together as an industry to ensure drivers have the resources they need to safely do their jobs, support their families and keep the supply chain moving. Despite these difficult and uncertain times, professional drivers continue to go above and beyond, and we are honored to do our part in supporting them with this donation."

Rutter's

Rutter's has partnered with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) to help those in need during this pandemic. According to the PCADV, with many citizens forced to stay at home due to COVID-19, convenience stores are one of the few outlets where victims will have an opportunity to get the information they need and seek help.

Rutter's has stepped in to support the cause by promoting access to help on their in-store digital screens, digital screens at the pump, as well as on social media.

"While this is a difficult time for many during the pandemic, we can't lose sight of other issues going on in our society, such as domestic violence," said Rutter's Director of Fuels, Forecourt & Advertising Chris Hartman. "At Rutter's we're always looking for how we can help support our communities, which is why we partnered with the PCADV. We want to help spread a message of hope to those shopping our stores."

Based in York, Pa., Rutter's operates 78 locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.

Sheetz Inc.

The Pennsylvania-based retailer kicked off several community support initiatives and donations to assist health care workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, as well as communities struggling with hunger amid the coronavirus:

Providing Funds for PPE

A $100,000 donation will be made to Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization working to help people who confront enormous hardship to recover from disasters. The donation will go directly to Direct Relief’s COVID-19 fund to provide protective gear and critical care items to health workers and medical facilities across the United States.

Sheetz also matched donations, up to $50,000, to Direct Relief through a charity esports tournament on April 24. Donations were made directly through "Sheetz Live" on Twitch.

Fighting Hunger

Through June 30, Sheetz customers can donate their loyalty points to support Feeding America directly through the retailer’s mobile app. For every 200 points donated, $1 will be donated to the organization and Sheetz will match donations up to $100,000.

Hospital Donations

Nearly five tons of food including a variety of snacks and drinks donated directly to hospitals in the communities Sheetz serves. These donations will help fuel medical personnel including doctors, nurses, hospital staff and more as they work around the clock to deliver life-saving care to those fighting COVID-19, according to the retailer.

Click here to see the complete list of hospitals receiving donations.

Stewart's Shops

With an increased demand on services, many nonprofits are experiencing strains on budget, staffing and resources, so Stewart's Shop are giving back to those organizations in the communities that it serves. Among local nonprofit areas that the c-store retailer supports include the arts, education, recreation, health, civic and social.

Stewart's Shops encourages nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 to reach out for additional help for sustainability by submitting grant proposals here. Grants will be given on a case by case scenario as they come in. There is no deadline for submission.

Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based Stewart's Shops operates more than 335 locations across upstate New York and southern Vermont.

Tyson Foodservice

On National Superhero Day (April 28), Tyson Foodservice joined #TheGreatAmericanTakeout to donate $5 for every social media post tagged with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout and #EverydayHero, up to $25,000, to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF).

The company previously donated $25,000 to the RERF the week of April 7.

"We believe there is still an urgent need to continue generating support for the foodservice industry and those affected by the COVID-19 crisis," said Nanette Luningham, vice president of Channel Development for Tyson Foodservice. "We are doubling down on our commitment to help drive traffic to restaurants and provide monetary support to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund by partnering with The Great American Takeout. On April 28, National Superhero Day, we hope everyone in the nation will help us support the restaurant industry and recognize the everyday superheroes who have emerged during this crisis."

Additionally, Tyson Foodservice honored honor the #EverydayHero in select locations by delivering takeout to firefighters, healthcare professionals, grocery store employees and other essential workers and giving restaurant gift cards to several Tyson truck drivers and frontline employees.

Wawa Inc.

The Wawa Foundation designated $150,000 to 21 Feeding America Food Bank partners throughout the convenience retailer’s footprint of nearly 900 stores from its COVID-19 Emergency Food Distribution Fund. The organizations throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C. will each receive COVID-19 Emergency Food Distribution Funds ranging from $34,000 to $1,000 to address the crisis of hunger in their communities.

Recently, during Wawa's annual recognition of their founding week on April 13, the company earmarked an additional $250,000 to provide food and necessary supplies to communities impacted by COVID-19 due to school closures, employment disruptions and health risks. The $150,000 being distributed represents the first wave of the funds in action.

As of today, a remainder of $100,000 COVID-19 funds are available for food banks and nonprofits to apply for. Interested nonprofits applying for the remainder of the funds can apply here. The Wawa Foundation is currently accepting applications until funds are completely distributed.

Welch's Fruit Snacks

Welch's donated and delivered more than 1.2 million pouches of their iconic Fruit Snacks to Feeding America. The deliveries were made throughout the Northeastern United States to food bank locations in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

With Feeding America announcing they are expecting an increase of 17 million Americans they will serve over the next six months, The Promotion In Motion Cos., makers of Welch’s Fruit Snacks, wanted to contribute to helping food insecure families with a meaningful quantity of snacks, the company said.

"During the challenging and unprecedented times we are facing, all of us need to contribute," said Promotion In Motion CEO Michael Rosenberg. "Food banks are struggling to keep stocked, so providing our beloved Welch’s Fruit Snacks, which are made with Real Fruit and are an excellent source of Vitamins A,C and E, to those in need, including our closest neighbors, was something all of us at PIM knew could make a difference."

The company also made a meaningful cash contribution to the Franklin Township, N.J. Food Bank to help fund the acquisition of groceries, vegetables and other necessities.

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