How Hunger-Sensitive Are Your Stores?

Articles
November 30, 2010

How Hunger-Sensitive Are Your Stores?

The holiday has just passed when many families, food stores, food banks and community organizations do their best to ensure that others have a meal they could appreciate. It is one of the peak days of the calendar when emotional giving takes over.

The holiday has just passed when many families, food stores, food banks and community organizations do their best to ensure that others have a meal they could appreciate. It is one of the peak days of the calendar when emotional giving takes over.

What about the rest of the year? How many donors work at soup kitchens or help in other ways on less celebrated days, or make food charity a part of their routine? Or more extremely, how many truly understand what it means to deal with hunger every day?

One upscale Long Island couple, Daniel and Laurie Grinberg, wondered the same. They enlisted their children Emma, 10, and Matthew, 7, in a family project to gain a better sense of what hunger feels like and how it affects quality of life. The family of four ate on $60 a week from October 1 to 28, they told Newsday columnist Joye Brown. In their neighborhood, $60 barely covers takeout sushi, so the family felt the contrast at least for a little while. 

Yet “we really didn’t know hunger because we knew it would end,” the youngest child told Newsday’s Brown. Her insightful column detailed the Grinberg family’s food compromises (fewer meals, fewer fruits and vegetables), differences in shopping habits (seeking best prices in more stores) and consumption habits (less waste) – and their new sensitivity that hunger could strike anyone. 

This sensitivity could trigger more joint charitable initiatives between supermarkets and their shoppers to help others in their communities, believes The Lempert Report. Families still faring well in this economy could feel that they’ve dodged bullets. As a result, they want to help others and might like to see more organized giving programs at their primary food stores.

Related, and more central to supermarket strategies, are potential changes in the shopping, purchasing and consumption behaviors of more families in order to conserve resources – even if the financial devil isn’t yet at a family’s door.  Supermarkets need to prepare for more digging in, perhaps even in better zip codes, because what the Grinberg family felt for a few weeks represents what many families fear most.