The GIANT Company, a Carlisle, PA-based grocery retailer, recently kicked off its annual “Healing Our Planet” campaign. The initiative is one of GIANT’s three philanthropic focus areas, along with “Eliminating Hunger” and “Changing Children’s Lives.”
“We decided to include ‘Healing Our Planet’ as a focus area because we believe that in order to fully achieve our purpose of connecting families for a better future, we must also take care of the physical communities our team members, customers, and neighbors at large work, live, and play in,” said Jessica Groves, community impact manager at GIANT. “While we have always worked to be a steward of the environment, this ambition was formalized, named, and introduced in 2019.”
Jessica Groves, Community Impact Manager, The GIANT Company
Supporting organic agriculture is a major part of the “Healing Our Planet” campaign through GIANT’s partnership with the Rodale Institute, a foundational organization of the organic movement.
“Our relationship with Rodale began back in 2019 when we established our philanthropic focus areas,” said Groves. “We understand that a commitment to how food is grown, what it’s grown in, and how it gets to our customers matters, so we sought out partners who are working to address these topics. … Rodale is based about two hours from our headquarters in Pennsylvania, so it made sense for us to partner with them to learn as much as we can about regenerative organic farming.”
From March 1 through the end of May this year, customers at The GIANT Company’s 193 stores have the opportunity to donate to Rodale and two other environmentally focused organizations through a round-up-at-the-register program.
“In the last two 'Healing Our Planet' campaigns, our customers donated more than $4 million,” said Groves. “Of those dollars, $2.19 million has been donated to Rodale Institute. The remaining funds from both years were allocated to Keep PA Beautiful and Planet Bee Foundation.”
Groves said Rodale has used the donated funds to support organic farming research, including the organization’s Farming Systems Trial, Vegetable Systems Trial, and Watershed Impact Trial. The money has also been used to support both farmer and consumer education on the importance of soil health and the benefits of regenerative organic farming.
“We understand that a commitment to how food is grown, what it’s grown in, and how it gets to our customers matters, so we sought out partners who are working to address these topics." - Jessica Groves
When asked why it’s important to GIANT to support organic agriculture, Groves said, “Research and data have shown that when we grow and consume fruits, vegetables, and dairy via organic and regenerative organic practices, there are benefits both to the planet and consumers’ overall well-being. We know that these practices today are costly on both the production side and the consumer side. The more education farmers can get their hands on, the more resources available to them to offset additional upfront costs to grow organically, and the more consumers are exposed to information on the benefits of crops grown this way, the more they will demand items grown this way and not be deterred by price.”
GIANT is also dedicated to offering organic produce in its stores and has been doing so for at least the last 30 years, Groves said. Overall organic penetration in the produce departments of its three banners (GIANT, MARTIN’S, and Heirloom Market) is around 7 or 8 percent, with about 100-125 SKUs on average—and more during the spring and summer months.
In addition to supporting organic agriculture, GIANT’s 2023 “Healing Our Planet” initiative has a number of other components. “Our 2023 campaign has a food waste theme,” Groves shared. “The average family throws away 250 pounds of food each year. That food waste ends up in landfills, which produces greenhouse gases with negative environmental impacts.” She said GIANT is educating consumers on how to reduce their food waste by sharing tips and tricks to help them purchase food more efficiently and use more of the food they buy.
“Research and data have shown that when we grow and consume fruits, vegetables, and dairy via organic and regenerative organic practices, there are benefits both to the planet and consumers’ overall well-being." - Jessica Groves
GIANT is also informing shoppers about its partnerships with Flashfood, a food waste-minimization app that alerts consumers to discounted fresh items approaching their sell-by date, and Divert, a company that reduces food waste through multiple avenues, including converting it into biofuel.