Wegmans makes the world a better place, one meal at a time
Since its founding in 1888 on Lake Erie as a summer refuge for underprivileged children, Cradle Beach Camp had never failed to open for the season until 2020, when COVID reared its head. Nonetheless, the camp, which today serves children with disabilities, was a hive of activity that summer, as employees from local Wegmans supermarkets showed up to clean up the grounds and facilities, repaint cabins, make needed repairs and otherwise ensure that the camp would be ready when the time came.
Wegmans employees are like that; so is the company itself. When there are food pantries to stock, disaster victims to help or summer camps to repair, count on the Rochester, NY-based company to show up, ready to work. Wegmans’ corporate mission is “to help people live healthier, better lives through exceptional food.” At Carpenter Group we see a company that not only fulfills its mission, but exceeds it.
In the summer of 2021, flash flooding in New York State’s Steuben county destroyed homes and businesses and made travel hazardous. While there was ample government funding for rebuilding roads and bridges, some 350 homeowners were left to pick up the pieces on their own. So the Wegmans store in Corning joined forces with the United Way and other local businesses to fill the assistance gap, setting up triage centers to get homeowners the help they needed, creating special appliance packages to replace destroyed HVAC units and providing $40,000 toward disaster relief.
A century-old, family-owned grocery chain with 106 stores from New England to North Carolina, Wegmans, not surprisingly, ranked first on People magazine’s “100 Companies that Care 2021” list. The company gives back to the community in myriad ways, the list says, “from providing seniors free rides to their stores and to medical appointments, to donating more than 18 million pounds of unsold items to local food banks and $30 million for hunger relief just last year.”
One not-for-profit partner, Community Harvest Project, in central Massachusetts, grows, harvests and donates hundreds of thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables each year to help end hunger in their community. In 2021, the Wegmans in nearby Northborough contributed $10,000 to CHP’s volunteer farming program, helping to feed more than 400,000 food insecure people through 22 partner agencies. In addition, Wegmans employee volunteers regularly help harvest produce at the CHP farm.
Wegmans operates its own organic farm and orchard in Canandaigua, NY, to source more organic produce and extend the East Coast growing season. Using the farm’s research and development, the company shares what it learns with its partner growers to help them become more sustainable as well.
It stands to reason that feeding the hungry would be a primary focus of Wegmans’ corporate giving activities. But its broad philanthropic platform also includes employee scholarships and tuition assistance, and programs to empower minorities and women, such as an annual “hackathon” at Rochester Institute of Technology, where female students from area universities are challenged to create an app, game or other piece of software in 24 hours.
Wegmans inspires a level of customer loyalty bordering on the mythical. Fans self-identify as “Wegmaniacs” and turn out in droves—sometimes camping overnight in the parking lot—when new stores open. The American Customer Satisfaction Index lists Wegmans as the nation’s “favorite grocery retailer.”
The company also ranks high in the eyes of the Cradle Beach Camp community. “Building revitalization, grounds clean-up, repairs and beautification, streamlined processes, in-kind resources—the list goes on and on,” says executive director Ann-Marie Orlowski. “The community support and kindness offered by Wegmans year after year has been a true gift.”
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About Brand Acts of Kindness®
Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.
The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.
About Carpenter Group
Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.
Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.