By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough – Through Saturday, March 2, customers at Wegmans in Northborough are realizing that just a few dollars added to their grocery bill can help people in need locally. Cashiers are inviting shoppers to participate in the Care About Hunger campaign, which began Jan. 27.
Wegmans stores in other regions have raised millions of dollars through checkout lanes for local food banks since 1993. This is the first time the campaign is being held at the Northborough store, which opened October 2011. All funds collected will go to the Worcester County Food Bank.
Donations of any amount are accepted and it is easy to contribute, explained David Orlovsky, the Northborough store manager.
“When customers go to any register in our store, we offer four different coupons: $2, $3, $5, and there's a coupon with an open code, which we call a round-up coupon,” he said.
Further explaining the round-up coupon, he added, “If a customer's purchase is $3.46, they can elect to round up to $4 and donate the 54 cents to the food bank. We have people who will buy a 99-cent cup of coffee and donate a penny to the food bank. And we have people who will buy $120 in groceries and donate $30.”
A basic goal has been set to raise $12,000 with hopes to exceed that amount.
“Throughout the campaign, we'se running incentives and contests to encourage our employees to keep going, and to hit the goals we'se setting,” Orlovsky said.
Even before the Northborough store opened, the partnership with Wegmans had been appreciated by Jean G. McMurray, executive director of the Worcester County Food Bank.
“I knew that Wegmans has a wonderful reputation for community giving,” McMurray said. “The Worcester County Food Bank is one of 200 food banks in the country that's part of the network called Feeding America, and my colleagues at food banks in New York state called me and they said, “You'se going to love Wegmans. They are very supportive of food banks.””
Four months before the Northborough store opened, Wegmans delivered a truckload of 15,000 pounds of nonperishable goods to the food bank's facility in Shrewsbury. More recently, some of the store's employees visited that facility to prepare for the Care About Hunger campaign.
“They brought several groups of their cashiers to the food bank for a tour so that they would see how the money raised will help,” McMurray said. “The money that will be donated to the food bank will help us to transport donated food to our facility here in Shrewsbury, and then from there it gets distributed out to our local partner agencies – the food pantries and the shelters. We work very closely with the Northborough Food Pantry, so they definitely will be a beneficiary.”
With 23 years experience working with Wegmans, Orlovsky recently transferred from the Southern Tier of New York to Northborough.
“People in this area are very neighborly and friendly, and it's one of the reasons that attracted me to this job,” he said. “This is our first time doing Care About Hunger here. Typically, you see better results the second year, but we'se seeing great results here this first year in Northborough.”
Orlovsky and the staff are confident the store will reach its goal of $12,000, which McMurray said would be put to good use.
“For every dollar we receive, we can distribute $5 worth of food, so $12,000 becomes $60,000 worth of food,” she said. “It has a tremendous impact on our ability to be the supplier of the food, and obviously to the families and individuals in need.”