"Our greatest opportunity to create positive change is by engaging people in a way that has the greatest meaning for them."
By Jonathan Mayes, SVP of Government Relations, Public Affairs, Philanthropy and CSR
Grocery stores play a major role in consumers’ everyday lives, and touch more people more frequently than most other retailers. That’s a big responsibility, and as one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America, we at Safeway understand our unique position to help create better lives and a healthier planet … with every trip to the store.
We call it the “Heart of Safeway,” and our CSR commitment is based on four platforms: people, products, community, and planet.
Our customers have told us they value the things we do that directly affect them in their homes, neighborhoods and daily lives. That’s why for us, CSR has to resonate on a personal level. After all, it’s the personal experience people have shopping in their neighborhood Safeway, the local farmers whose produce we sell, the community food banks we donate to, and the water we save in the community that have the greatest impact on a daily basis.
Making It Personal: The Heart of Safeway Pledge
To demonstrate how everyday choices by individuals can have far-reaching results, we’re inviting people to take the Heart of Safeway Pledge. Through this program, we’re offering customers and employees the opportunity to commit to an everyday action to live healthier, and to contribute to the health of their communities and our planet.
More than 11,000 people have taken Safeway’s CSR pledge since it launched on October 2, 2012. The Heart of Safety Pledge and our broader CSR initiatives only reinforce that our greatest opportunity to create positive change is by engaging people in a way that has the greatest meaning for them, whether that’s personal health, donating to local causes or doing something positive for the environment.
Those who took the Heart of Safeway Pledge through October 31 also received a coupon for $1 off fresh produce, which was our way of encouraging and rewarding customers for taking action toward health and wellness in their daily lives. As a result of the great shopper engagement, The Safeway Foundation donated $25,000 to benefit Feeding America in the US and Food Banks Canada.
With more than 1,600 stores across the U.S. and Canada, we also know that the decisions we make as a company can make a real difference in the communities we serve—and beyond. Here are just some of the ways that we’re driving impact across our CSR platforms.
At Safeway, we’ve built a culture of wellness for our employees. In 2011, we became the first in the grocery industry to hire a Chief Medical Officer, to lead several employee health and wellness programs. Employees participating in one of our programs collectively lost 18,734 pounds, reducing the overall obesity of our workforce/participants by 4.5 percentage points.
In another program, 63 percent of the participants improved their blood pressure, 47 percent lowered their cholesterol levels and 15 percent improved their Body Mass Index.
To put healthy choices in the hands of our customers as well as our employees, we’re continuing to grow our selection of organic, natural and earth-friendlier products.
This means stocking our shelves with more locally grown produce and sustainable seafood. Our O Organics line, which is exclusive to Safeway, offers USDA-certified organic products throughout the store. Additionally, our Open Nature line – made with 100 percent natural ingredients – includes 130 products ranging from everyday basics to hormone/antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed, fresh meats.
Earlier this year, we introduced “responsibly caught” Safeway Select skipjack chunk light tuna at an affordable price. It’s part of an effort we’re particularly proud of—and in 2012, Greenpeace USA ranked Safeway No. 1 on its Supermarket Seafood Sustainability list for the second consecutive year.
Our CSR commitment focuses on driving local impact in the neighborhoods we serve, from donating to local schools that our shoppers choose, to recruiting and hiring veterans. We provide customized outreach for our communities through fundraising, donations and volunteer efforts.
In 2011 and 2012, our employees volunteered over one million hours of their time and energy to help create more vibrant communities. We helped make homes and community centers more accessible to people with disabilities, prepared care packages for active duty military personnel overseas, and walked to raise money for organ transplant recipients and for cancer and AIDS research.
With generous support from our customers and employees, Safeway and The Safeway Foundation raised and donated $188.8 million in 2011 to support local health and human services, hunger relief, education programs and assistance for people with disabilities. We recently launched the 2012 Help Us End Hunger Campaign in our stores to help those in need during the holiday season. Since 2001, Safeway and the Safeway Foundation have donated over $1 billion.
Our Seafood Sustainability initiative is only one example of how we’re constantly evolving to minimize our impact on the planet as a company. We’ve successfully launched a program to convert waste grease from our deli departments into cleaner-burning bio-diesel fuel to power the Vons truck fleet in Southern California. In 2011 alone, we converted waste grease into 124,524 gallons of bio-diesel.
We reduced electrical usage in U.S. manufacturing plants and distribution centers by six percent by upgrading our equipment and implementing technology to provide up-to-the-minute data on power consumption in refrigeration, lighting and other systems.
We’ve created and applied sustainability practices that our customers can also be a part of. For example, we just established a goal to reduce the number of plastic and paper bags used by one billion by the end of 2015. One way our shoppers can help us reach this goal is by making the switch to reusable bags.
An Ongoing Commitment: Focus on Personal, Local
Our commitment doesn’t stop here though. We know real change happens with ongoing effort, and we are constantly exploring how we can make a difference on a personal level. Our focus – not just with our wellness programs and CSR efforts but in all of our operations – is to make an impact that people can see and appreciate in their daily lives, in their neighborhoods, and in our stores.
About the Author:
Jonathan Mayes is Senior Vice President of Government Relations, Public Affairs, Philanthropy and Sustainability for Safeway Inc., one of America’s largest grocery and pharmacy chain. Safeway operates over 1,660 stores in the Western, Rocky Mountain, Southwestern, Mid-Western and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States and in western Canada.
Before joining the Government Relations Department in 1996, Mr. Mayes was a Senior Attorney at Safeway, and focused on employment law, business litigation, and consumer protection matters. Before joining Safeway in 1994, Mr. Mayes was Senior Corporate Counsel for Lucky Stores, and an attorney at Donahue, Gallagher & Woods.