Nourishing Our Communities: Grocers’ Vital Role in Combating Hunger with GOT Systems

A Stark Contrast in Food Waste and Hunger

Amid a startling reality where 30-40% of the US food supply goes to waste, as per USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates, nearly 50 million Americans struggle with food insecurity. This pressing issue presents a unique challenge for grocers, already strained by time constraints and soaring labor costs. The critical question arises: How can we efficiently channel the surplus food from grocery stores to those in dire need within our communities?

More than 44 million people in the US face hunger, including 1 in 5 children.Understanding the Extent of Hunger in America

Food insecurity, defined by the USDA as the lack of access to enough food for a healthy life, affects every corner of the nation. In 2022, Feeding America estimated that 44 million people in the U.S., including 13 million children, were food insecure. For many, unexpected life events such as job losses, health emergencies, or accidents can suddenly force difficult choices between food and essential expenses. To combat this, food banks, food pantries, and community organizations unite to help millions access affordable, nutritious food.

Case Study: Jewish Family Services Food Pantry in Greater Kansas City

JFSKC Pantry Team

JFSKC Pantry Team

 Jewish Family Services (JFS) of Greater Kansas City, with a history spanning over 120 years, is a multi-service organization assisting people of all faiths, ages, cultures, and identities. A key component of their services is the JFS Food Pantry, which operates from two locations, serving 500-600 families monthly. In the last year alone, JFS distributed over 350,000 pounds of food, serving nearly 3,000 individuals per month, a significant number of whom are under the age of 18.

The pantry strives to offer a wide variety of products, catering to Kansas City’s diverse population. It provides staples such as grains, dairy, proteins, fresh fruits, and vegetables, along with personal care and household items not covered under SNAP benefits. Additionally, recognizing the importance of pets in many households, the pantry also offers pet food, having supported 1,275 pets last year.

Jo Hickey, Director of Pantry Partnerships at JFS, shares that a key challenge for the JFS pantry is sourcing a consistent and varied supply of goods. The pantry requires culturally relevant foods to serve the diverse needs of its community adequately. Also, with more efficient manufacturing and distribution systems, overages from grocery stores have decreased.


GOT Systems: Streamlining Grocery Donations with Technology

GOT Systems shrink markdown food donation

In response to these challenges, local grocers have partnered with JFS, utilizing the GOT System’s Track It program to streamline the donation process. This innovative system provides tools for tracking all types of shrink a retail store might experience. The process is very straightforward:

  1. Each day, stores earmark perishables and damaged but viable goods for donation, storing them in a designated area, typically a freezer.
  2. When products are scanned out of inventory, the staff selects from a list of food pantries set up in the GOT program.
  3. GOT then automatically sends a list of donated products to the selected food pantry.
  4. The selected food pantry picks up the donation and distributes it through its network.

This system eliminates logistical hassles for the store and reduces the labor involved in arranging product pickups. GOT also provides detailed donation records for the stores’ bookkeeping and tax purposes and sends reports to the pantry for their records.


Impact of Technology on Food Donations

The contributions from grocery stores to food pantries are essential in addressing food insecurity. These donations, typically accounted for as shrink in inventory, require detailed record-keeping. Keeping track of donations — what was given, to whom, and when — is crucial for inventory management and leveraging potential tax benefits. By reducing shrink through donations, grocers can directly enhance their bottom line. The GOT program not only facilitates significant community impact but also aids grocers in reducing their tax liability with minimal effort.

The Growing Need and Future Aspirations

Hickey shared that the need for food assistance is not diminishing but growing each year. She hopes to expand partnerships with more stores in the area. Says Hickey, “Grocers can make a huge impact in their neighborhoods through these easy-to-use donation programs.  They can directly affect the people who are already in their stores stretching their dollars.”

What Retailers Can Do

Grocers are uniquely positioned to make a substantial difference in their local communities. By leveraging technology like GOT Systems to streamline the donation process, they can address the critical issue of hunger while benefiting their business operations. The need for such initiatives is ever-growing, highlighting the importance of partnerships between grocery stores and community organizations like JFS. Together, we can nourish our communities and tackle food insecurity head-on.

Learn more about GOT Systems’ Track It Program and how it can help streamline your donations as well as make a huge impact on your bottom line.

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