Idaho-based retail giant Albertsons Cos. pledged $50 million to local hunger relief efforts in its communities on Wednesday, April 22, just before news broke that more than four million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the five-week total to more than 26 million.
“This time of extraordinary need demands an unprecedented response,” president and CEO Vivek Sankaran said in a video statement (view at bottom) announcing Albertsons’ latest actions. “The basic needs of many of our neighbors have been threatened like never before. … We are hopeful that more companies will join us and use our broad hunger relief network to help locally, where it is needed most.”
Albertsons previously pledged $3 million to its Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief fundraiser for local communities impacted by COVID-19. The cause has additionally received more than $13 million in donations just from customers at Albertsons' banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s and Randalls, according to the company.
The fund is bringing a total of $66 million to its local partner organizations. The company’s division teams are tasked with working with their local hunger relief partners in choosing how to best support:
- food banks and their response to increased demand,
- emergency meal distribution programs at schools, and
- senior centers and other programs that provide food to seniors.
In addition to its community hunger relief efforts, Albertsons is extending its “Appreciation Pay” program to frontline workers including e-commerce shoppers, drivers and store associates through at least May 2. Albertsons’ program provides a temporary, $2 per hour pay increase and overtime to hourly workers, and an extra $100 per week to salaried workers.
In the last six weeks, Albertsons has also hired more than 50,000 people. In March, the retailer teamed with 17 companies (the number has since surpassed 25) including Hilton, BJ’s Restaurants, G6 Hospitality, Inspire Brands, Marriott International and MGM Resorts to offer part-time jobs to furloughed employees.
And in other related news, Albertsons is implementing a one-way shopping experience using directional decals up and down aisles. Additionally, some stores are beginning to limit how many customers are allowed in at one time, like many other retailers have also been doing.
Albertsons also has rolled out a number of health and safety initiatives in response to the pandemic including purchase limits on select essentials online and in stores, “contact-free” delivery and other social distancing protocols across all its stores based on CDC guidance including rolling out sneeze guards and designated waiting points positioned 6 feet apart throughout the store, particularly at checkouts and high-traffic areas.