UPDATE: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree released the following statement after being contacted by Shaw’s Supermarkets.
Shaw's has told me they will reinstate the food donation program that benefits the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. That's great news for the program in Brunswick and I'm glad Shaw's reconsidered. But there are a lot of other hunger programs around the state that could benefit from donated food from Shaw's Supermarkets, and I'm looking forward to hearing from the company about why they are not reinstating donations in other locations as well.
Pingree's letter to Shaw's is attached and pasted below.
In the wake of recent news reports that Shaw's Supermarkets is ending the donation of surplus food to local soup kitchens and food banks, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree wrote to the president of the company today asking for an explanation.
In a letter to Jim Rice, President of Shaw's and Start Markets, Pingree wrote:
"I was very disappointed this week to learn that because of corporate policy, Shaw's stores in Maine have stopped donating perishable food to organizations that are helping feed Maine families in need. The loss of these contributions has had an ongoing harmful impact on food access throughout Maine, most recently with the loss of donations to the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program.
"I am writing to ask you to explain the corporate policy that has reportedly led to the decision to stop donations, and the reasoning behind it. I would also like to know if this decision is likely to lead to more food ending up in landfills," she wrote.
Shaw's had been donating perishable food near its sell-by date to numerous local organizations that help feed Maine families struggling with hunger. According to news reports, Shaw's corporate policy has brought an end to those donations.
An estimated 40% of food produced every year in the United States is wasted, meanwhile nearly 50 million people struggle with hunger. Pingree says if food waste is reduced by just 15% and good quality, wholesome food is redirected to people in need, the number of hungry Americans could be cut in half.
This week, Pingree introduced the Food Recovery Act, a comprehensive package of legislative proposals aimed at reducing wasted food and promoting food recovery in America. At a press conference at the Portland Food Co-op on Monday, Pingree was joined by representatives from organizations fighting hunger in Maine and food retailers who had committed to sending excess food to those organizations.
Shaw's & Star Markets
750 W Center St
West Bridgewater, MA 02379
December 10, 2015
Dear Mr. Rice:
I would like to thank you for the support that Shaw's Supermarkets has shown over the years to soup kitchens and food pantries in Maine and throughout New England.
However, I was very disappointed this week to learn that because of corporate policy, Shaw's stores in Maine have stopped donating perishable food to organizations that are helping feed Maine families in need. The loss of these contributions has had an ongoing harmful impact on food access throughout Maine, most recently with the loss of donations to the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program.
I am writing to ask you to explain the corporate policy that has reportedly led to the decision to stop donations, and the reasoning behind it. I would also like to know if this decision is likely to lead to more food ending up in landfills.
While forty percent of the food produced every year in the United States goes to waste, nearly 50 million Americans are struggling with issues of hunger. Donating excess food or food near the sell-by date to soup kitchen and food pantries is one of the best ways we can reduce food waste and address hunger issues at the same time.
Turning excess food into animal feed, compost or converting it to energy are all better than dumping it in a landfill, but none of them are as a good a solution as sending that food to families who don't have enough to eat.
On Monday, I stood with members of the hunger community and a number of food retailers to talk about our shared goal of wasting less food. Many of those participating talked about achieving a "zero-waste" goal for supermarkets—where none of their food ends up in a landfill. I hope you can join us in our fight to dramatically cut food waste.
Since George C. Shaw opened his first shop in Portland over 150 years ago, Shaw's has been an important part of our communities here in Maine. I look forward to seeing that tradition continue.
Member of Congress