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Sky Plaza IGA Hosts a "Fill the Fire Truck" Food Drive

Author: Rich Hoffman

The Independent View


Sky Plaza IGA Hosts a "Fill the Fire Truck" Food Drive  

 October 24, 2012 


Like many small towns across the country, our town has seen more than its fair share of hardship in the last few years. When I first started as a grocer in this community, there were three full-service grocery stores. Today we're the only one left, so we feel a big responsibility when it comes to making sure the people in our community have enough to eat.

One thing we take very seriously is our commitment to helping local food pantries. We've worked with all the food pantries in the area, and now that there's a new one that opened in our community this year, we're doing everything we can to help them get established—including working out a plan to help them stock up for the holidays. After meeting with the food pantry's board we developed a two-pronged approach: give shoppers the option of donating money at the register that the food pantry would use to buy products from our store, and then host a food drive where shoppers buy food in our store and donate it back to the food pantry.

When we started planning the details of the food drive, one of the food pantry board members suggested that he had an idea that might make the day more exciting for shoppers—he said he would loan us his 1935 Maxim fire truck for the day so we could make it a "Fill the Fire Truck" food drive. We would ask our shoppers to buy food items for the food pantry in the store, then bring those items outside to toss them in the fire truck. Knowing that kids love fire trucks, we upped the ante a little—any shopper who donated five items would get to ring the bell!

With our planning in place we had a meeting to explain everything to our employees, and then we started advertising. We created a PDF flyer that we put on the "more pages" section of our IGALink website, started handing the flyers out in the store, put an ad in our local paper and posted the event on our electric billboard out front.

Sky Plaza IGA 2012

On the day of the fire truck donation we had food pantry volunteers standing at the front of the store handing out of list of products they needed, and shoppers stepped up immediately to donate. In all we filled the fire truck four times with everything from pasta to canned vegetables—including tons of IGA Brand products—and a full pallet of vegetables that we donated from the store. Between those items and the donations at the register, we figure the food pantry has gotten about $3,000 worth of food from the drive, and there are still more register donations to come. There's no doubt that this food drive has increased our sales significantly, but more than that, it's helping people in need. Our shoppers appreciate that we're giving them a way to help their community, and I appreciate that I have the ability to do that. In my eyes, having that kind of flexibility is one of the greatest things about being an IGA retailer.


Rich Hoffman