Stater Bros. doesn’t just do business in the community…they’re part of the community
Jack Brown led the company to do the right thing for the right reason.
Since 2008, Stater Bros. Charities, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has provided funding to local organizations and causes that benefit:
• Hunger Relief
• Children’s Well-Being
• Veterans and Active Service Members
Nearly 10 years later, the organization has raised more than $24 million to support the needs in the communities Stater Bros. Markets serves.
According to Nancy Negrette, chairman and president of Stater Bros. Charities and recently promoted VP of corporate affairs for Stater Bros. Markets, money raised through fundraising events and in-store mobile campaigns stay in the communities where Stater Bros. Markets operates. These communities are in Southern California’s San Bernardino, Riverside, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Ventura counties.
Ventura is the newest county, as Stater Bros. opened its first store in Simi Valley—where it had had requests to open a store for years—in August 2016, in a former Haggen store.
“Stater Bros. Charities was established to provide philanthropic support for the communities where our employees live and work. Since then, we’ve donated back to countless organizations,” Negrette said, adding that the funds raised primarily come from “our vendor partners, supplier friends and valued customers.”
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Throughout the year, all 171 Stater Bros. stores collect funds through $1, $3 or $5 donation cards and coin canisters at each checkstand. Funds raised during the in-store mobile campaigns benefit local nonprofit organizations that benefit one of the five initiatives. Vendor partners and suppliers support various fundraising events.
Stater Bros.’ longtime late executive chairman Jack H. Brown, who passed away in November 2016, was the one who decided, during The Great Recession, to create Stater Bros. Charities so that worthy organizations would continue to receive funding in spite of the downturn in the economy.
“In 2008, when there were some economic challenges, there were several nonprofit organizations that weren’t receiving the funding that they were used to because a lot of for-profit organizations were cutting back, so that’s when Stater Bros. Charities was established—to help continue to support the nonprofits that needed funding to support their programs and services,” said Negrette, who joined the company nearly six years ago. She joined Stater Bros. Charities initially as a volunteer coordinator, and then became manager and then executive director before being named chairman and president.
The Stater Bros. Charities board, which recently was expanded to 13 members, comprises Stater Bros. employees from different departments in the corporate office, such as human resources, accounting, retail, distribution, etc. They are heavily involved in determining which programs and services will be supported throughout the year.
Their involvement doesn’t stop with the selection process, though.
“They’ve all been involved with the in-store campaigns and fundraising events,” Negrette said. “We have a very active and engaged board that is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and help out with events. Most of our board members are the first ones there and the last ones to leave an event.”
New board members are nominated by existing members; the board meets quarterly.
Board members are asked to continually be thinking of or identifying organizations in the community that Stater Bros. Charities can support, Negrette said.
“It may be somewhere they’ve volunteered or they’ve gotten information from a customer in the community. They’re able to share their findings with us to evaluate.”
Those organizations—all of which fall within those five focus areas—are invited to apply for funding on an annual basis.
“Each time a grant application is submitted, we go through the same processes—we ensure that the funding is going towards programs and services, and their program is operating in the areas where we serve,” Negrette said. “We also do a background check through GuideStar to see how the program is using their funds.”
While Negrette is chairman and president of Stater Bros. Charities along with her oversight of the Stater Bros. Markets public relations department, there is a two-person staff—a manager and an assistant—that oversees the day-to-day operations of Charities, whether it’s reviewing grant applications or planning and executing the campaigns and fundraising events, Negrette said.
“Companywide we come together as a team to execute the various campaigns and fundraising events throughout the year,” Negrette said. “We’re working with our distribution center to get product or food pulled; we’re working with our transportation department to ensure product, supplies and food get delivered to organizations or event sites; we’re working with our marketing department to foster our vendor and supplier relationships; we’re working with our accounting department to oversee our financials; we’re working with our human resources department to get volunteers for the various events; we’re working with our advertising department to design our marketing materials and event artwork; and we’re working with our retail team to help execute the in-store mobile campaigns. So, although there is a small Charities department, it is without a doubt a companywide effort that makes everything come together.”
The months of November and December are dedicated specifically to hunger relief, working with local food pantries and food banks. More than $700,000 annually is donated to local food banks through these end-of-the-year efforts.
During those months, Stater Bros. Markets conducts the “Harvesting Hope” campaign. Stores offer customers four ways to help their friends and neighbors in need.
“Bag of Hope” donation cards: These cards are available for purchase at each checkstand. Funds collected through the donation cards provide fresh and healthy food and funding to Stater Bros.’ food bank partners and holiday campaign beneficiaries. For a $5 donation, customers can donate $12 retail of fresh and healthy food to the food banks. The money raised from the cards is donated during the summertime, when food bank reserves are low, Negrette said. “Children are out of school, so they’re not getting the meals through the free or reduced price lunch program. We donate fresh and healthy food items as well as money during the summertime to sustain the food banks in our community.”
Nonperishable food donations: Food donation barrels also are available at all store locations for those customers who want to donate nonperishable food items. Most-needed items include canned tuna, peanut butter, canned vegetables, canned fruit (in water or light syrup) and whole grain cereal.
Coin canisters: Money collected through the coin canisters at each checkstand during November and December support low-income seniors, veterans, families and children in need. Stater Bros. Charities presents these funds to qualified food banks and feeding programs in Stater Bros.’ seven-county operating area.
Salvation Army Red Kettles: The kettles are set up in front of all Stater Bros. supermarkets from mid-November until just before Christmas, collecting nickels, dimes and quarters to help those who are most vulnerable in the community where the donations are made.
“Stater Bros. has always believed in not just doing business in the community but being part of the community, and we are proud to partner with area food banks and local nonprofit agencies to serve the needs of our local communities,” said Pete Van Helden, president and CEO of Stater Bros. Markets, prior to the 2017 campaign.
Annual food drive partners and holiday campaign beneficiaries include Community Action Partnership–Kern County, Desert Manna, Feeding America Serving Riverside San Bernardino Counties, FIND Food Bank, Inland Empire Desert Communities United Way, Inland Harvest Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, San Diego Food Bank and The Salvation Army.
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