Grocery retailers in the Southwest are reaching out to help their local communities as the Covid-19 pandemic continues. Brookshire Grocery Co. is donating $1 million and matching customer donations up to $500,000 to food banks in its communities; Homeland, in addition to increasing safety measures for employees and customers, also is inviting some Oklahoma City restaurants to sell their food in its stores; and ExxonMobil is donating money to food banks in Houston and the West Texas region to help those in need.
Brookshire Grocery Co. to donate $1M to food banks, will match $500K in customer contributions
Due to the Covid-19 public health crisis, food banks across America are seeing a rise in demand for resources to serve those most in need, and Brookshire Grocery Co. (BGC) is determined to make a difference in the communities it serves. BGC is donating $1 million to food banks across Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, along with matching customers’ donations up to $500,000 with the goal to help thousands of people at risk.
The $1 million donation will be distributed across BGC’s market area including the East Texas Food Bank, Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, FoodNet Food Bank (Louisiana), Northeast Louisiana Foodbank and Harvest Regional Food Bank (Texarkana) over the next two years.
Through May 5, all Brookshire’s, Super 1 Foods, Spring Market and Fresh by Brookshire’s grocery stores will have $1, $3 and $5 scan coupons available for customers to make monetary donations at checkout. Customer contributions and BGC’s match will be donated to a local food bank in each community. This donation will be in addition to the $1 million the company is donating to the selected food banks.
“Our company is committed to supporting our communities and helping give hope to those at risk,” said Brad Brookshire, chairman and CEO for BGC. “We know people are in need right now and that the food banks are seeing increased demand for resources in all of the communities we serve. We care about our neighbors and are committed to doing what we can to lessen the impact of Covid-19.”
The $1 million donation and the additional $500,000 match program will bring more than 16 million meals for families in East Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
Based in Tyler, Texas, BGC is a regional family-owned grocery business that employs almost 14,000 individuals throughout Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
Homeland updates Covid-19 response, helps OKC restaurants
Homeland, an Oklahoma employee-owned company, announced on April 6 some additional responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to keeping its grocery employees and customers safe, Homeland has reached out to Oklahoma City restaurants and is allowing them to sell their food inside its stores.
Added safety measures
To further increase social distancing within the stores, the company is implementing the following new procedures.
First, all store aisles will be directional. Floor graphics with arrows will show the proper direction for shopping to limit the space between customers.
A limited number of customers will be allowed to shop at one time. This capacity will be determined based on the size of the store and will be posted at the entry of each building. Each store will have personnel at the entrance to monitor the number of guests shopping at one time. When the limit is reached, they will ask customers to wait to enter while observing a six-foot social distance.
In addition, they ask that customers have a designated family member as a shopper and limit themselves to one person per cart.
Homeland will continue to encourage social distancing at the checkout areas by observing the markings on the floor. Also, the company is asking shoppers to maintain the distance between both customers and employees during all times. This includes shopping, ATM and service counter lines.
Homeland is part of the HAC Inc. grocery chain headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As of 2020,HAC operates 78 grocery stores in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Georgia. HAC Inc. operates under multiple banners including Food World, Piggly Wiggly, Country Mart, United, Cash Saver, Super Save, Food Pyramid and Homeland.
Homeland helps OKC restaurants
In Oklahoma City, Rococo’s is one of the city’s premier fine-dining restaurants. Chefs Bruce Rinehart and Jason Bustamante share their love of East Coast seafood at two locations in the city.
But on March 17, the chefs had to close their dining rooms following a city-required order to help stop the coronavirus spread. The closure left more than 60 employees without work, including the staff at Rinehart’s downtown bar, The Manhattan.
Then, a call from a grocery company president helped lift the spirits of Rinehart and his team.
Homeland Food Stores President and CEO Marc Jones reached out to several restaurateurs about putting prepared meals and other food items in Homeland stores’ deli cases. As his stores were seeing a surge in business, he knew the restaurants were suffering with their dining rooms closed.
“We want to have a thriving community when this over, so we have to keep our restaurants operating,” Jones said. “We kicked around this crazy idea of selling the restaurant’s meals, and we’d let them put their labels on it so they could keep their brands out there. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Homeland’s Deli and Bakery Director Chris Rogers coordinated getting the meals in the stores. Across Homeland’s stores in the Oklahoma City metro, there are six eateries offering prepared meals or other dishes. Attached to every container is a label featuring the restaurant’s logo.
Rinehart has used the opportunity as a way to get creative with his offerings, especially since he tries to stick to a price point. He’s made a new meatball recipe and named it after his son. He is putting out soups and stews on colder days. He’s even put his famous crab cakes in the deli case.
“It’s really given us a breath of life,” said Rinehart. “The public support has been heartwarming.”
Restaurant operators Jamie and Jordan Winteroth, who have two eateries in the city, are also benefitting from getting space in the deli cases. Getting to put their restaurant logo on the food packages was especially important. The Winteroth’s restaurant, Social Deck + Dining, is offering curbside service, but the breakfast eatery, Aurora, is closed. The couple had been operating it less than a year.
“Mostly what we’re trying to do is make sure (the restaurants) don’t die in the process,” she said. “That’s where we’re all struggling the hardest.”
To help keep the restaurants operating, Homeland lets them keep all the proceeds they make from the dishes. Because of the revenue stream, the Winteroths hired back two employees full-time and one employee part-time. Rinehart said he’s ramping up to hire back a few people as well to help keep up with filling the Homeland cases and his own restaurant delivery.
Rinehart’s excitement about the opportunity is evident on the restaurant’s Twitter, where he has been posting videos of the cases when they are filled. It was a big day when he put the crab cakes in Homeland’s cases. There was some initial hesitation about putting the crab cakes out because of the price point, but they didn’t stay in the cases long. Rinehart said he received an astounded text from Jones about the quick sale.
Besides supporting local inside the store, Homeland is also opening its parking lot up to food truck operators to sell during lunch hour. Jones is also letting restaurant food distributors sell products in the store and he’s reached out to them to help keep his own shelves stocked.
Jones said during this experience, he’s really seen the amazing value of Oklahoma City’s food-supply chain. He’s worked with a prepared meal company, i2U Culinary Solutions, to bake bread when his shelves were getting emptied. When he needed more flour, he was able to call Shawnee Mills and get a truck sent his way.
“One of the benefits of living in Oklahoma City is you can pick up the phone and make some calls, then all of a sudden you have three or four restaurateurs ready to work with you,” he said. “There’s something very powerful yet endearing about that.”
Rinehart said he hopes other grocers will follow Homeland’s leadership. He’s shared the opportunity with some of his chef friends on the east coast.
“I’d love to see a ground swell of this nationwide,” he said.
ExxonMobil donates to Texas food banks
ExxonMobil will help provide about 1 million meals to Houston-area residents impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic through $250,000 in contributions to local food banks. It also is making a $100,000 donation to the West Texas Food Bank.
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 receive $50,000 from the company, which has a long history of support for the community organizations.
“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, VP 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.”
The Houston Food Bank is working with hundreds of nonprofit agencies in the area to feed children, families and senior citizens facing hardship as a result of COVID-19.
“Hundreds of thousands of people count on Houston Food Bank and its partners, and this number has heightened significantly as the Covid-19 situation developed and continues,” said Brian Greene, president and CEO of Houston Food Bank.
“We provide essential services and will continue to do so to meet the demand of the community, but we cannot do it alone. This generous donation from ExxonMobil will allow us to provide food for children, senior citizens and families, including the most vulnerable, those who don’t have the means to have reserves of food and other necessities. We thank ExxonMobil for being an amazing partner, especially in this unprecedented time of need.”
The Montgomery County Food Bank is also seeing a significant spike in demand for food and is working with more than 60 partner agencies, local independent school districts and senior adult partner complexes to ensure safe distribution in this time of need.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the generous donation from ExxonMobil,” said Allison Hulett, president and CEO at the Montgomery County Food Bank. “Tens of thousands of people are looking to us for hunger relief during this challenging time. We are so thankful for their support so we might add a measure of stability to those affected in the form of their next meal.”
ExxonMobil, which has about 11,000 employees living and working the greater Houston area, remains focused on keeping its workforce safe and healthy to maintain its operations and maximize production of materials critical to the global response.
West Texas area
ExxonMobil is supporting hunger relief in the Midland-Odessa area and across West Texas with a $100,000 donation to the West Texas Food Bank to help those facing difficult economic circumstances resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’re proud to be able to help the communities where we operate and call home,” said Staale Gjervik, SVP at ExxonMobil Upstream Oil and Gas Co. and president of XTO Energy. “With school closures, job disruptions and health risks, thousands of West Texans are turning to the West Texas Food Bank for much-needed support.”
The West Texas Food Bank has been feeding families in Midland-Odessa region and the entire West Texas area for more than 35 years. As the largest nonprofit, non-governmental hunger relief organization in the Permian Basin, the West Texas Food Bank distributes donated and purchased food to children, families and seniors with help from more than 80 partner agencies. This network provides food to individuals across 34,000 square miles of Texas.
“We have entered an uncertain time, but we are secure in the knowledge that our supporters are behind us,” said Libby Campbell, executive director at the West Texas Food Bank. “The support we have received from ExxonMobil is crucial in a time where the food bank is having to spend extraordinary amounts of money to purchase food. I am forever grateful for their support.”
In addition to its donation to the West Texas Food Bank, ExxonMobil is supplying the fuels and other products that consumers, first responders and health care workers need to address the challenges faced by Covid-19.
ExxonMobil is helping to meet demand for important products such as hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes and disinfectant sprays by manufacturing a key ingredient, isopropyl alcohol, and providing it to the customers and areas that need it most. ExxonMobil is also working with the Global Center for Medical Innovation to design and support the manufacturing of reusable shields and masks for health care workers.
ExxonMobil is a founding member of the Permian Strategic Partnership, an alliance of 19 energy companies operating in the Permian Basin, working in partnership with community leaders to address public education, healthcare, housing, roads and workforce development. In 2018, ExxonMobil contributed nearly $35 million to higher education, medical care, environmental research and arts and civic organizations in Texas and New Mexico.