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West Jordan Journal

Kroger running Zero Hunger l Zero Waste program

Apr 03, 2022 08:10PM ● By Linda Steele

By Linda Steele | [email protected]

Zero Hunger l Zero Waste is saving food to help families in need. Smith’s grocery store management donates unsold food to help families in the community.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of what Smith's processes look like,” said Aubriana Martindale, division of corporate affairs manager. “We have very strict operation guidelines. Smiths is certainly the business of food. We know that meals have the power of bringing people together. It's what we do at the end of the day, we gather at the table and enjoy a meal. There are studies showing that children who have meals at the end of the day, do better in all aspects of their life; they have better attendance and get better grades, etc.”

Zero Hunger’s Mission Statement is: “We are on a mission to help communities free of hunger and waste.”
“There is a fundamental absurdity in our food system; 35% of the food produced in the U.S. is thrown away, yet an estimated 42 million Americans struggle with hunger,” Martindale said. “We can help. Kroger’s Zero Hunger l Zero Waste social and environmental impact or commitment is to help create a more efficient and equitable food and charitable food system.”

Martindale discussed more of why this program is so important.

“One in seven Utah children don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” she said. “When we think of hunger, we don’t necessarily think of it right in our neighborhoods. Hunger is hard to identify; it doesn’t discriminate against age, gender or race. What commonly happens when families are food insecure and money is tight, they will spend their funds to cover the cost of the mortgage, cover the cost of their car to get to their job or from place to place. The last item they will check off is food. They will utilize food-assistance programs.”

Martindale said officials at Smith’s understand the need to help out.

“When Smith’s heard that one in seven Utah children don't know where their next meal is coming from, Smith’s felt they had an obligation to address the need of seeing that Utah children are fed,” Martindale said. “They show up to school with a hungry stomach, and they can’t concentrate on their education. That doesn’t set them up for success.”

In delving into the reasons for hunger, Smith’s management found that 40% of food produced in the U.S. goes wasted.

“How to get more of the food in homes, versus it goes to the landfill,” Martindale said.

Smith’s management stepped up to the operation of Zero Hunger Zero Waste to address the hunger problem. By 2025 the Smith's goal is to eliminate the waste program and help end hunger.
Shoppers hold their standards to high-fresh products. Smith’s holds itself to high standards with fresh products. Associates rotate the produce every day. Smith’s has a red bag program and put blemished items to be marked down the same day and sold. If it is not sold the same day when it was put in the red bag, then food is donated to the food bank. The food bank will turn the food over to a family the same day or the next day.

There is an unrealistic perspective of food.

“We think food needs to look perfect to be human consumable; that is not the case,” Martindale said. “We know that if an apple has a blemish we can easily peel off the skin, the apple is still nourishing and good for a child, especially if the child has not had an apple all week long. Both perishable and non-perishable goes through different processes. Any food that is no longer sellable but is still human consumable is donated to the food bank. The food bank gets it out to the community.”

The food bank has different programs and pairs with partnering pantries. Clients pick up the food and it gets distributed to the schools.

When the “Good Samaritan Act” came out, food bank officials could see that hunger was a big issue. Organizations wanting to help with solving hunger were donating food in good faith. Zero Hunger, Zero Waste donates everything it can. The food bank evaluates all the food before it gets sent out to its clients. The food bank is part of Feeding America; they conduct audits and lets everyone know there are required regulations. The food bank has a list of items that says how far the items can be used and how far the items can go past the dates listed on the product. Smith’s only goes by the “sell by dates” when rotating the items on the shelves. When products go past the sell by date, they are pulled from the shelf and are sent to their reclaim process then donated to the food bank. The food bank makes sure they evaluate all products before they get into anybody's hands.

“In our homes, we need to consider how much quantity of food we need,” Martindale said. “Do we cook in excess, and are we throwing things out that could be donated? Are we composting? Food waste releases one of the worst gasses, it is methane gas. However, we can recycle food that is the best option rather than hitting the landfill.”

There is an anaerobic-digester located in North Salt Lake. Any food that is no longer human consumable that can’t be donated. Smith’s officials still want to divert as much waste from hitting the landfill as possible. Any food that can’t be donated to the food bank, Smith’s will donate to the anaerobic-digester. The anaerobic-digester is a process that microorganisms break down biodegradable material that doesn’t have any oxygen. The process is used for industrial and domestic purposes.

To find out more information on Zero Hunger l Zero Waste and how to do in-store recycling and mail-in recycling, go to