KidCents Holiday Wishes program gifts $2.2 million

BY Michael Johnsen

In this season of giving, the Rite Aid Foundation is awarding a total of $2.2 million to its partner charities through its KidCents Holiday Wishes program. Created to recognize the year-round efforts of each organization, each of the more than 440 charities currently participating in The Rite Aid Foundation's KidCents program will receive a $5,000 grant to help make a holiday wish of their choice come true.

"The Rite Aid Foundation wanted to give our KidCents charities a special gift this holiday season, in recognition of all they do to give the children they serve a chance for better lives and brighter futures," stated Tracy Henderson, director of The Rite Aid Foundation and charitable giving initiatives. "Our KidCents Holiday Wishes program captures the true spirit of the holiday season and is the perfect way to thank our partner charities for all they do throughout the year to make a difference in the lives of children in our communities."

The KidCents charities were asked to pick the wish they felt would have the most impact for those they serve. Holiday wishes range from facility and equipment repairs to operating supplies to holiday care packages and gifts to training and special programming to help improve the health, safety and well-being of the children they serve.

Examples of holiday wishes being fulfilled through the KidCents Holiday Wishes program include:

  • Miracle Babies, San Diego: The nonprofit organization, which provides education, support and financial assistance to families with critically ill newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, is creating holiday care packages that will be distributed to 500 parents;
  • The Boys and Girls Club of the Tar River Region, Rocky Mount, N.C.: The local chapter, which provides after-school programming to thousands of kids ages 5-18 years old at three separate locations, plans to replace insulation that was damaged by Hurricane Matthew last year;
  • The Children's Village, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: The nonprofit organization, which provides innovative residential and community-based program to at-risk children, teens and families, is creating a new game room for the 300 kids who live at the facility;
  • Northeast Youth Center, Spokane, Wash.: The youth center, which provides educational and recreational activities to children ages 3-17, will help kids stay warm this winter by providing winter coats and boots; and
  • Washtenaw Area Council for Children, Ypsilanti, Mich.: Michigan Children's Trust Fund's designated agency for the prevention of child abuse and neglect in Washtenaw County is purchasing 25 tablets and one laptop to begin offering a cyber safety program to its members.

"We are so proud to be part of the KidCents Holiday Wishes program," said Marianela Camarillo, Miracle Babies director of program services. "Thanks to the generosity of The Rite Aid Foundation we are able to spread a little extra holiday cheer and give comfort to parents and families who desperately need it this time of year."

Since its inception in 2001, The Rite Aid Foundation has awarded more than $36 million to non-profit organizations. Additionally, Rite Aid, through the efforts of its customers, supplier partners and associates, has also raised more than $81 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals across the country since 1994.



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Supermarket Wellness Watch: Kroger takes a stand against hunger, food waste

BY David Orgel

When you think of health and wellness in the retail setting, what often comes to mind are better-for-you products, in-store health services, and other high-profile topics.

However, there are other health-related subjects that don’t get as much exposure, but are still highly important. These include anti-hunger programs, and efforts to reduce food waste.

Supermarket giant Kroger is taking a big stand on both of these issues in a major new corporate commitment. It launched a “moonshot” initiative called Zero Hunger| Zero Waste back in September aimed at “ending hunger in the communities Kroger calls home and eliminating waste across the company by 2025.”

More recently, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based retailer unveiled television and radio ads in some 191 media markets nationwide to build awareness of the campaign during the holidays. This is being supplemented by store-level customer giving programs benefiting local food banks and hunger-relief organizations, and “Kroger’s year-round, industry-leading, fresh food donations program,” the company said.

“We understand nutrition plays a critical role in wellness, and we want to make sure our program contributes to people having balanced meals,” Kristal Howard, Kroger spokesperson, said in an interview for this blog.

In the U.S., some 42 million people struggle with hunger, and roughly 72 billion pounds of food are placed into landfills each year, according to the company. The challenges of large amounts of food being unconsumed while people face hunger are linked. Discarded food can be donated for anti-hunger efforts.

“As America’s grocer and one of the largest retailers in the world, we are committing to do something about it,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger chairman and CEO, in a recent statement.

Kroger’s program includes the following goals and activities:

  • Create a $10 million innovation fund as part of The Kroger Co. Foundation to address hunger and food waste.
  • Expand food donations to provide some three billion meals by 2025 in Kroger market areas.
  • Donate “more balanced meals” through Kroger’s fresh food donation efforts.
  • Partner with Feeding America and World Wildlife Fund on efforts.
  • Advocate for public policy solutions to tackling hunger, which include pushing for continued funding of federal hunger relief programs.
  • Eliminate food waste by 2025 and develop transparent reporting on this effort.
  • Push for public policies that support waste prevention and diversion of waste from landfills, including with recycling , composting and other sustainability efforts. Kroger aims to achieve the “Zero Waste 2020” goals contained in its sustainability report.

Health and wellness drives a plethora of activities across Kroger’s wide-ranging portfolio. This includes organic, natural and better-for-you foods; sustainable packaging; pharmacy; specialty pharmacy, clinics, and other areas.

The food industry as a whole has addressed the waste challenge through the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a joint initiative of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and the National Restaurant Association. Its stated goals are to reduce the amount of food waste generated, increase the amount of food donated to those in need, and recycle unavoidable waste to divert it from landfills.

Having Kroger’s muscle behind efforts to combat hunger and food waste will boost industry-wide achievements. Already since its initiative was launched just a few months ago, Kroger donated nearly 3 million meals, Howard said. This indicates the momentum is growing for successful attacks on these challenges in the near future.


David Orgel is an award-winning business journalist, industry expert and speaker who was the longtime chief editor and content leader of Supermarket News. He is currently the principal of David Orgel Consulting, delivering strategic content and counsel to the food, retail and CPG industries. To read last month’s blog post, click here


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Which area of the industry do you think Amazon's entry would shake up the most?

HealthBeacon’s prescription for adherence


An elderly patient comes home from a doctor visit with a new set of prescriptions to manage her high blood pressure. The new meds are added to her already crowded daily regimen, but the first week is fine, in part because the patient has family members in town who help her adjust to the new medications.

But then the family leaves, and the patient struggles to remember the correct dose of her medication and when to take it. Not long after, she suffers a mild stroke and is rushed to the hospital.

The scenario may be a fictitious one, but it’s also one that’s a real possibility when patients fail to take their medications as prescribed. One study found that people with high blood pressure who don’t take their medications when they should have a higher risk of stroke — and of dying from it — than those who adhere to their prescription schedule. 

In fact, medication noncompliance has huge implications on not only people’s health, but on health care and the costs associated with it. It’s a growing challenge, but one that a new wave of innovators and entrepreneurs are looking to get a handle on.

“Despite the remarkable advances in medications, patients still are struggling to take their medications on time and as needed,” said Jim Joyce, CEO and co-founder of HealthBeacon, a medical technology company based in Dublin, Ireland, that’s working to improve medication compliance. “It’s a huge problem in the healthcare industry and in people’s lives, but it’s one that technology and innovation is helping us get our arms around.”

Innovation in action
Joyce had spent 10 years helping patients with chronic medical conditions when he and co-founder Kieran Daly came up with the idea for HealthBeacon’s main technology, which helps address medication compliance issues. The HealthBeacon device is a smart sharps bin for patients who self-inject medications at home. It is digitally connected and programmed with personal medication schedules, and uses customized reminders to help patients stay on track.

Not only does the technology help improve patient outcomes, but also it is on track to help lower clinical costs and make improvements in how pharmaceutical costs and resources are directed.

“We saw a real need for patients to benefit from technology when it comes to medication management,” Joyce said. “But these technological innovations go far beyond that and will help disrupt the entire industry.”

HealthBeacon has already made strides in the industry and has been growing rapidly. The company raised 1 million euros in a 2016 seed round and, with the backing of Enterprise Ireland, a government agency that helps Irish companies expand into global markets, opened an office in Boston earlier in 2017.

HealthBeacon is not alone in taking on medication compliance. With the rise of the smartphone, countless apps have come about that help patients adhere to regular medication schedules. Such companies as Medication Management Systems offer comprehensive, technology-backed services that ensure patients are taking their prescriptions when they should, while other firms offer automated reminders, counseling lines and other tools to keep people on track.

Such companies as Dose Guardian take a more analog approach with advanced pill-box options, which include at-home packaging systems that ensure patients get the right dose at the right time.

“I think there’s a lot of room in the industry to address the challenges of medication compliance,” Joyce said. “In the end, the goal is largely the same: to eliminate the issue and, in the process, help more people live healthier, longer lives.”

Donal Cummings is the vice president of digital health and life sciences at Enterprise Ireland.


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Which area of the industry do you think Amazon's entry would shake up the most?