In 2021, Schnucks donated $200,000 to the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis’ Save Our Sons program, and the National Urban League, as a result of its Round Up at the Register program during Black History Month.
In the U.S., February is designated Black History Month, while in the U.K., it’s in October. But whenever it’s celebrated, increasingly retailers are getting behind this observance and running creative campaigns to draw attention to it.
For Schnucks, it’s not just about raising money. The St. Louis-based company also gave teammates the opportunity to reflect on what Black History Month means to them. “We gathered stories from teammates and featured them on our intranet,” says spokesperson Paul Simon.
Similar events are planned for this year, he says. “Better understanding the life stories and experiences of others is an important context as we move forward.”
This year, Wakefern Food Corp., whose banners include ShopRite and Price Rite Marketplace, will celebrate the rich legacy of Black thought leaders, especially those dedicated to healing, healthy living, and eating well.
“Store associates will have the opportunity to learn how Black Americans in the healing and culinary fields shaped how we live and eat today,” says spokesperson Marla Camins. “We’ll host virtual events for our associates to learn about Black American trailblazers and cherished traditions – including favorite healthy eating recipes – and share their own experiences.”
Price Chopper showcases employees
Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper presents portraits of Black historical figures and their achievements on posters, in its circular, and on register screens, in-store radio, and social media. It also highlights Black brands, shares Black teammate recipes and profiles.
“Our Black History Month celebration for 2022 builds on the core components of previous years, by giving voice and space to our Black teammates, showcasing the Black-owned and -founded brands with which we partner, and honoring notable Black figures,” says spokesperson Mona Golub.
Soul Food for Southeast Grocers
Southeast Grocers is rolling out the red carpet for Black History Month through a new virtual soul food tour, showcasing meals and flavors that celebrate Black culture. Customers, associates and communities will be able to participate through social media channels and store communications.
And last year the company launched its new Supplier Diversity Connect program, in partnership with RangeMe, which allowed it “to expand our network of suppliers, to discover more quality local products our customers will love,” says Meredith Hurley, director of public relations and community.
Southeast Grocers sponsored last year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in its hometown of Jacksonville and in 2020, created the Romay Davis Belonging, Inclusion and Diversity Grant Program to support nonprofits serving diverse populations in the fight for racial equality and social justice, and address the racial disparities in education, food insecurity and health care.
In the U.K., this past October Sainsbury’s focused on four key themes: 1) celebrating African and Caribbean food; 2) exploring Black-owned businesses; 3) celebrating Afro-textured hair; and 4) supporting the Black community.
Sainsbury’s worked with Black writer Bakita Kasadha to produce a video with its colleagues, using poetry she wrote for the company. The poem is an account of the realities, including the highs and lows, of being Black in Britain and growing up Black in Britain.
Retailer Morrisons used the theme “Proud to be” and celebrated in many ways. It featured several of its Black employees in videos showing how to make meals such as the Caribbean dish escovitch fish, jollof rice, and grilled lamb and attieke.
Marks & Spencer doubled its donations to Black charities during October and asked shoppers to select them as their “Sparks charitable donation.” The company also highlighted Black employees and shared their stories about why they’re proud to be Black.
Focusing on suppliers
Schnucks also runs a supplier diversity program during February, and expects it to run again this year. This program highlights Black-owned businesses, and this year, for the first time, will feature a distributor.
“We share the company’s story and highlight their products,” Simon points out. “We’re always striving to increase our representation of Black-owned and other diverse-owned businesses, and of course, one of the ways we find vendors is through our partners at RangeMe.”
Wakefern will highlight Black social media influencers who embrace meal time as a way to express what Black History Month means to their families using the hashtag #MeaningfulMeals.
At Kroger, the goal during February is “to build awareness, help our minority suppliers increase sales of their products and highlight our diverse associates,” says Kristal Howard, a company spokesperson. In other years, the featured Black brands experienced a significant sales lift vs. the prior year, further advancing their businesses, she points out.
Last year the company once again ran its supplier inclusion video series for customers and associates, featuring Black food producers, their stories and recipes featuring their products, and plans to run it this year, too.
“Inclusion is one of our core values, and we want to provide other Black vendors the opportunity to participate,” the spokesperson points out.
It’s easy to celebrate Black History Month. With a little creativity, retailers can highlight suppliers, employees, and customers and share some goodwill and pride in this community.