The 2020 Buy Alabama’s Best Retail Campaign Launch Awards luncheon was held recently at The Club. The Alabama Grocers Association, the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries and the Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association were all in attendance.
Presentations were made by Assistant Commissioner Bob Plaster, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Ellie Taylor, president, Alabama Grocers Association; Johnny Collins, Dean Foods and chairman, Alabama Grocers Association; Mike Hanson, Milo’s Tea and president, Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association; and Laura Lester, executive director, Alabama Food Bank Association.
Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association members, as well as retailers and wholesalers throughout the state of Alabama, were also in attendance.
Plaster, Hanson and Collins presented Display Contest Award Certificates to Gardendale Foodland for First Place Dry and First Place Wet, Food Giant Hueytown for Honorable Mention, Food Giant Leeds for Honorable Mention and Piggly Wiggly Homewood for Honorable Mention, all for the 2019 retail campaign year. These displays featured participating Alabama food products to help consumers identify which products were headquartered, produced or manufactured in the state of Alabama.
The Alabama Grocers Association also announced a new partnership with the Alabama Food Bank Association. According to Feeding America, the food insecurity rate in Alabama is more than 16.5 percent. Children and seniors are at the greatest risk of food insecurity. One in six children may not know where they will get their next meal.
When children experience food insecurity, they often experience developmental delays and impairments in areas like language and motor skills, have more social and behavioral problems and often have to repeat grades in school.
For Alabama seniors, 19.3 percent are marginally food insecure, 12.8 percent are food insecure and 5 percent are very low food insecure. Alabama ranks sixth in senior hunger.
“We are really excited for changes in the new year, especially our new partnership with the Alabama Food Bank Association,” Taylor said. “As a food organization, we meet peoples’ most basic needs by feeding them, so raising funds for food banks across our state could not be more appropriate.”
Lester gave the group an overview in the importance of food banks across the state of Alabama. She extended her thanks for the support of these important community organizations made possible through impactful partnerships throughout the state of Alabama.
“We could not be more thankful for this opportunity to partner with the Alabama Grocers Association,” she said. “Alabama has a high need food insecurity rate, but this partnership will give us the opportunity to directly impact those in need and change food insecurity throughout our state.”
The purpose of the Buy Alabama’s Best Retail Campaign is to identify Alabama food products, raise awareness of those products and increase sales for those products. Alabama food product sales have a $2 billion impact on Alabama’s economy and along with the food service industries, employ one out of every four Alabamians.
The food retail industry in Alabama provides more than 70,000 jobs with more than $2.2 billion in annual wages paid. Grocers pay more than $1.2 billion in state taxes and have a total economic impact on the state’s economy of over $12 billion.