Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. wants to solve the paradox that is hunger and food waste.

The company launched a new initiative to eliminate waste across the company by 2025, and end hunger in the communities it serves.

“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 chairman and CEO, in a news release.

The Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative outlined a strategy to address the program, and Kroger also is “crowdsourcing for solutions, asking communities, partners and other stakeholders to help provide ideas, feedback and best practices as the effort evolves.”

The strategy includes eight points:

  • Establish a $10 million innovation fund within The Kroger Co. Foundation to address hunger, food waste and the paradoxical relationship between the two.
  • Accelerate food donations to provide three billion meals by 2025 to feed people facing hunger in the places Kroger calls home, including the communities served by Food 4 Less stores in the greater Chicago area. In partnership with its customers, associates and other partners, Kroger has donated one billion meals via combined food and funds donations since 2013.
  • Donate not just more food, more balanced meals via Kroger's industry-leading fresh food donations program. 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 longstanding partners with food banks across the country. Today, Kroger and Food 4 Less store associates are empowered 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. Through the first half of this year, Food 4 Less stores in the Chicago area have donated more than 300,000 pounds of fresh product to area food banks.
  • 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.
  • Achieve all Zero Waste 2020 goals outlined in the annual Kroger sustainability report.
  • 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 longstanding partners to identify opportunities, leverage data, and determine where by working together Kroger can help the most.
  • Transform communities and improve the health of millions of Americans by 2025 by making balanced meals more readily available, sharing scalable food waste solutions with other retailers, restaurants and local governments, and working within Kroger's supply chain to reduce farm-to-fork food loss.

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