Community Service Spotlight: C-store Industry Steps Up Support for COVID-19 Relief Efforts

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Community Service Spotlight: C-store Industry Steps Up Support for COVID-19 Relief Efforts

By Danielle Romano - 04/15/2020
7-Eleven donated 1 million masks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid the medical community.

NATIONAL REPORT — As 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:

7-Eleven Inc.

7-Eleven donated 1 million masks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to aid the medical community. The convenience store retailer has provided all corporate stores and franchisees with a supply of masks for use by franchisees and their employees as they serve customers in their stores, and has donated all remaining inventory to FEMA.

"7-Eleven is a brand that cares deeply about the people and communities in which we operate, particularly the first responders and the medical community who put their lives on the line for us every day," said 7-Eleven President and CEO Joseph DePinto. "When we heard shortages of masks were becoming a serious issue in hospitals, we felt it was our responsibility to respond and help."

Circle K

Global convenience store chain Circle K pledged to donate 25 million meals to Feeding America in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting April 10, for every fuel transaction made at a Circle K, one meal will be donated to a local member food bank of the Feeding America network, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization. According to the company, $1 helps to provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks.

"During these unprecedented times, Circle K is committed to being part of the solution in the communities where we work and live. We know many of the families we serve have been impacted and challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Circle K. "Our mission as a company has always been to make our customers’ lives a little easier every day, and we know the best way to get through these difficult days is to band together and support each other."

The pledge to Feeding America is the most recent way Circle K is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier in March, the company began offering free coffee, tea and Polar Pop to healthcare workers and first responders, as well as its own frontline store team members across its network of participating service stations and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Dash In

Dash In, a Wills Group company, is providing $200,000 in unrestricted grants to four major food banks operating across the Mid-Atlantic region: Food Bank of Delaware, Maryland Food Bank, Feed More and Capital Area Food Bank.

The four $50,000 unrestricted grants will help support each food bank as they respond to urgent needs in their communities, supporting levels of activity such as pre-made meal kits, modified distribution strategies to reduce gatherings of people and increased recruitment of younger volunteers to help meet the increased demand.

"Given the struggles and unprecedented demand our food bank partners are having due to school closures and increasing unemployment rates, we had to act," said Julian B. Wills III, president, Dash In. "To help address the needs of hungry children and families in the communities we serve, we want to give food banks the flexible dollars they need to source and distribute food. We hope this donation provides some relief in tackling today’s barriers, along with new challenges that may arise in the coming weeks."

In addition to the unrestricted grants, the Wills Group is distributing an additional $23,000 to nonprofit organizations in Southern Maryland who are actively working to address childhood hunger.

EG Group

Effective immediately, EG Group is adding healthcare workers to the current group of first responders and military personnel who may receive free coffee at its nine convenience retailers across the United States. Brands operated by EG Group include Certified Oil, Cumberland Farms, Fastrac, Kwik Shop, Loaf 'n Jug, Minit Mart, Quik Stop, Tom Thumb and Turkey Hill.

To receive a free coffee, doctors, nurses, hospital and medical staff, and medical researchers simply need to inform a team member of their profession upon checkout.

"Across the country, emergency first responders and healthcare workers continue to work long hours and make personal sacrifices for the health and safety of our communities," said George Fournier, president of EG America. "We are beyond grateful for their service, and hope that this small gesture helps fuel these unsung heroes throughout the day as they continue the great work they're doing to keep our communities safe."

ExxonMobil

Houston-based ExxonMobil is contributing $250,000 to local food banks that will help provide about 1 million meals to Houston-area residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Houston Food Bank will receive $200,000, including $50,000 worth of gasoline gift cards for use at Exxon- and Mobil-branded retail stations to help deliver food to those in need. The Montgomery County Food Bank will also receive $50,000 from the company.

"We value the important roles the Houston and Montgomery County food banks are playing in supplying food to vulnerable populations in the Houston region during these difficult times," said Suzanne McCarron, vice president of public and government affairs at ExxonMobil. "We hope our contributions will help their efforts and those who need assistance as our community pulls together to defeat COVID-19."

General Mills

General Mills kicked off a series of actions to support its employees and communities in response to the impact of COVID-19, including:

  • Healthy office employees have the opportunity to provide temporary help in manufacturing facilities.
  • Enhanced benefits for plant employees, including a daily bonus; two weeks of paid leave under conditions including voluntary or mandated quarantine, school closure for a child, medical risk and suspended work as a result of COVID-19; and in several locations, the company will provide childcare consultations with employees to address childcare concerns, including flexible work schedules.
  • Donating $5 million in charitable gifts to ensure the most vulnerable children have access to meals amid school and community program closures.

"Our company's purpose is to make food the world loves. But the unique circumstances of today call on General Mills to make food the world needs," said Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO of General Mills. "Our most important objectives are the continued health and safety of our employees and our ongoing ability to serve our consumers around the world. We see it as imperative that we help ensure a steady and reliable food supply for people and pets."

Kwik Chek

In partnership with sister company McCraw Oil, Kwik Chek has joined the #TexansHelpingTexans and #OklahomansHelpingOklahomans initiatives and has pledged to match the first $5,000 raised in-store. Customers have the opportunity to add $1, $3 or $5 to their total at checkout and 100 percent of funds raised will go directly back into local communities through United Way. 

"Guided by our motto, 'Leave 'em better,' we are passionate about supporting the local communities in which we serve," said Kevin Smartt, CEO of Kwik Chek. "Now more than ever, it’s important for able-businesses to do everything they can to lift up their neighbors. United Way’s mission to improve lives by mobilizing the power of communities to advance the common good aligns perfectly with the intentions of this campaign."

Spicewood, Texas-based Kwik Chek operates more than 47 locations throughout Texas and Oklahoma.

Just Born Inc.

Bethlehem, Pa.-based Just Born donated nearly 15,000 plastic gloves, 120 N95 masks and candy to local hospitals. Additionally, it partnered with the local United Way on a COVID-19 Community Response Fund which provides a rapid, informed and coordinated approach to assessing community need and getting dollars where they are needed most.

Marathon Petroleum Corp.

Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by donating personal protective equipment to healthcare providers and contributing $1 million to the American Red Cross through Marathon Petroleum Foundation Inc.

To address the nationwide need, MPC donated more than 575,000 N95 respirator masks to 45 hospitals and other healthcare organizations in 20 states to help protect healthcare providers as they treat patients infected with COVID-19. The masks were from a supply MPC prepared years ago as part of its pandemic response plan.

In addition, the Marathon Petroleum Foundation's $1 million donation to the American Red Cross will help supply critical resources necessary to safely provide disaster relief and support to those in crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

"We are incredibly grateful for the selfless actions of doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers on the front lines of this pandemic, and we are grateful that we can make this contribution to their safety," said MPC President and CEO Michael J. Hennigan. "Likewise, the American Red Cross provides vital services in the communities where we do business and throughout the nation, and we are proud to be part of their efforts through this donation from the Marathon Petroleum Foundation."

Findlay, Ohio-based MPC is an integrated downstream energy company. Speedway LLC, an MPC subsidiary, owns and operates retail convenience stores across the United States. MPC also owns the general partner and majority limited partner interests in MPLX LP, a midstream company that owns and operates gathering, processing, and fractionation assets, as well as crude oil and light product transportation and logistics infrastructure.

Mars Inc.

Mars Inc. is committing $20 million to global coronavirus response efforts. Support will include:

  • $5 million donation to CARE for critical supplies and expertise to be deployed in developing nations;
  • $2 million for the United Nation’s World Food Program, which aids in the transport and delivery of critical supplies for all UN agencies; and
  • $1 million to Humane Society International to help domesticated animals that have been abandoned or surrendered because their owners fell ill or could no longer care for them.

The remaining $12 million will be a combination of cash and in-kind donations from across the markets the company operates in, as well as donations from The Mars Wrigley Foundation, the Banfield Foundation, the Pedigree Foundation and the Tasty Bite Foundation.

"Our approach for working through this COVID-19 crisis has been, and will continue to be, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our associates, doing our part to prevent the spread of the virus and caring for our communities," said Mars CEO Grant F. Reid. "We're all in this together and we want to do our part to help those most in need."

PepsiCo Inc.

PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation kicked off a $45 million initiative focused on helping people and communities most affected by COVID-19. The Purchase, N.Y.-based company is allocating the donation to support the most hard-hit communities, including the following investments:

  • $15.8 million in the U.S.: Efforts focus primarily on increasing access to nutrition for out-of-school children in the U.S., 22 million of whom receive low-cost or free meals via the country's National School Lunch program every day. The company is also funding protective gear for healthcare workers, investing in testing and screening services and providing financial support for restaurant workers who are experiencing joblessness.
  • $7.7 million in Europe: PepsiCo is funding the distribution of essential goods including meals, personal protective equipment and health transportation to the hardest-hit countries, including France, Italy and Spain.
  • $6.5 million in Latin America: Efforts will help prepare for the expected increase in COVID-19 impact by strengthening local food bank capabilities. Specifically, PepsiCo's food bank support will enable the stock of key food staples, provision of meals and staff transportation, and training of food bank staff on methods to reduce COVID-19 transmission. The company's nonprofit partnerships will also provide millions of meals for out-of-school children and their families.
  • $7.2 million in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia: PepsiCo is investing to scale meal distribution among the most food insecure populations in partnership with leading non-government organizations and to support government-led responses to local needs.
  • $3.3 million in Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and China: The company provided early funding for protective gear for healthcare workers in China, and South Korea. PepsiCo will also help alleviate hunger among the most vulnerable people in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia including through meal distribution programs particularly to reach those in rural communities.

The company is also investing in global partnerships that provide scale solutions. PepsiCo will announce additional programs over the coming days and weeks to meet hyper-local needs as COVID-19 continues to spread and community needs expand. And recognizing that PepsiCo employees around the world also want to help their communities in this time of crisis, The PepsiCo Foundation is offering a two-to-one match for all employee charitable contributions to a group of nonprofits providing COVID-19 relief globally for the next four weeks, contributing up to $2 million in support to nonprofits chosen by employees.

"This unprecedented crisis requires all hands on deck, and companies have a big role to play in directing critical resources to the most vulnerable," said Ramon Laguarta, chairman and CEO, PepsiCo. "Food is at the heart of what PepsiCo does, and we believe the best way we can support communities during this difficult time is by leveraging our expertise and capabilities, along with help from our partners, to bring food to our neighbors who need it most. We're activating our global resources to do this now and provide other essential relief, and we will continue to do so as the world unites to tackle COVID-19."

Sparkling Ice

Sparkling Ice, made by Talking Rain Beverage Co., kicked off its first-ever Cheers to Heroes campaign to celebrate America's everyday hometown heroes in conjunction with its fifth annual partnership with the Honor Flight Network, a non-profit organization that honors America's veterans.

Now through June 14, Americans can nominate a community hero in his or her life who has made a difference while on the frontlines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for a chance for the hero to win $10,000. All nominees — from friends, colleagues, peers, neighbors, nurses, grocery store workers, postmen, etc. — are eligible.

At the end of the nomination period, Sparkling Ice will identify the top three submissions which will be voted on throughout the month of July on the Sparkling Ice website, and the winner will be announced on Aug. 7. The nominator of the winning hero will receive a $500 incentive.

"Over the last few months, our entire country has come together to fight on the front lines and support one another as we face the COVID-19 pandemic," said Chris Hall, CEO of Talking Rain. "As a company, it is our mission to support and give back to those who need it most, especially in these trying times. We want to honor the heroes who have had an immense impact on their local community, and we hope to bring a little bit of joy to these honorable people, who will forever have a lasting impact on their communities."

Throughout the campaign, Sparkling Ice pledged to donate $400,000 to unsung heroes across the country to bring some joy to those who need it most. This initiative is an extension of the brand’s overall 2020 campaign, "Flavor For All," which celebrates inclusion and togetherness in communities across the country.

Additionally, Sparkling Ice is releasing new limited-edition case wraps designed for the Cheers to Heroes contest and Honor Flight partnership. The patriotic-themed wraps will feature the Honor Flight Network logo and the Cheers to Heroes nomination guidelines. 

Wawa Inc.

Wawa donated a 53-foot refrigerated truck to the state of New Jersey to aid Bergen County, where it will serve as a temporary morgue.

"[Wawa] heard about our need, with a heavy heart, for refrigerated trucks to help take the pressure off our morgues and funeral homes, in protecting the bodies of those loved ones we have lost," said Gov. Phil Murphy. "… The fact that we even have to prepare for the unthinkable is on one level extraordinary, but having a corporate citizen like Wawa ready to step in to help is invaluable."

Click here to read how other c-store retailers and suppliers are supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.

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