Feeding people—that’s the name of the game in the supermarket business. Especially at this time of year, with huge Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to be planned and executed, supermarkets tend to be among the busiest, most bustling places around. But when you’re as closely aligned with and historically vital to the communities in which you operate as Strack & Van Til grocery stores are, that mission of feeding people tends to take on a whole different meaning around the holidays.
A longtime partner of local social service agencies including the Northwest Indiana Food Bank, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Northern Illinois Food Bank and the Good Samaritan Food Pantry of Rensselaer, the supermarket collective—which includes Strack & Van Til, Ultra Foods and Town & Country stores throughout the region—is taking its commitment to feeding its community one step further during the holiday season with its Hunger Roundup campaign. The promotion encourages customers to “round up” their purchase totals to the nearest dollar and donate the change difference toward the purchase of a complete holiday meal for a needy family in the community. Strack & Van Til vice president Jeff Strack says the roundup is just another way for his family’s business to demonstrate its longstanding commitment to the communities in which it operates.
“Giving back to the communities we serve has always been part of our company culture,” he explains. “My grandfather, Ernie Strack, and his partner, Nick Van Til, said that giving back was the right thing to do and was just good business. We are successful because of the customers who support and shop in our stores and we want to give back in ways that help enhance their communities.”
Indeed, throughout the year that spirit of giving back is manifested in a variety of in-store campaigns and events, charitable golf outings and financial support for local organizations serving area youth programs, school groups and military veterans. But because of its focus on food and its attempt to bring its customers together in the cause of giving back, the Hunger Roundup is a particularly beloved project at this time of year.
“Every holiday season we run various promotions that involve feeding the hungry,” Strack says. “The Hunger Roundup gives us the opportunity to provide these meals to the food banks that operate in our markets just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Ring in the Holiday
But the Roundup campaign isn’t the only evidence of the commitment to giving back that shoppers will see around Strack & Van Til, Ultra, and Town & Country stores. Once again, the spirit of goodwill will extend beyond the front doors of stores throughout the area this year, as they welcome back a familiar sight and sound of the season—the cheerful bell-ringers and distinctive red kettles of the Salvation Army.
“Each year, we allow the Salvation Army to bell-ring in front of our stores for the months of November and December,” Strack says. “This year, Ken Diehl, our president and CEO, is co-chairman of the annual campaign so we’re really excited about it. Strack & Van Til will match up to $25,000 in customer donations to the annual campaign.”
Both the Hunger Roundup campaign and the Salvation Army donation would represent admirable efforts for any company looking to pitch in for charitable causes around the holidays. But Strack says that while he’s extremely proud of both programs, they’re not at all out of the ordinary for a company that works hard to try and be not only a successful business but a good member of the community—all year long.
“(Giving back) is an important part of who we are,” he says. “At Strack & Van Til, Ultra Foods and Town & Country, we fully understand that what allows us to give back to the community is the support we receive from our loyal shoppers. We are not only people who work at the stores, but neighbors and family, and we’re happy to be part of the community.”