FAIRBANKS, Alaska - As thousands of pounds of donations to the Food Bank disappeared when Sam's Club closed, Anne Weaver - CEO of the Fairbanks Food Bank - said Fred Meyer and Safeway decided to go "zero hunger zero waste"... and a house bill was passed to relieve donors from liability.
"As the corporate stores are coming to us, saying 'Are you interested in this? Is this something that would be good in your community?'... We're able to say not only would it be good in our community. but our legislature supports this. So we, as Alaska, got to really shine on -- showing that we really do appreciate and love the ability for the corporate stores [to give] in that way," said Weaver.
Representative Dave Talerico said when he was Denali Borough Mayor, he saw lots of food go to waste which prompted him to sponsor the bill.
"[It was] perfectly good food, some of it still frozen, some of it canned. [At the] end of the tourist season, we'd see tons of this come to the borough landfill, just be dumped in the hole, then buried with a dozer and crushed and covered up," said Talerico.
Weaver says the timing was key. "We still took a hit from Sam's Club, but [it was not] the hit that we could've taken, had the house bill not come through, and had Fred Meyer and Safeway not stepped up," said Weaver.
Fred Meyer West's Store Manager, Randy Mitchell, said when they have excess food that they are not able to sell, they make sure to get it to the food bank as soon as possible.
"The food that we donate is close coded, stuff that we're long on. [It's] still a completely nutritious, healthy, viable product... and it's just a good exit strategy. It's the right thing to do -- get it into our community to the people who need it," said Mitchell.
Mitchell added that his Fred Meyer store has also implemented a program where customers can round up their purchases to the nearest dollar to donate to the Food Bank.