Delicious—and healthy—things are happening in a former mattress factory just outside of Columbus, Ohio. The Grove City complex is home to Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s central distribution center, serving more than 150,000 meals a day to hungry residents across 20 counties in Central and Eastern Ohio.

Within the Foodbank’s headquarters lies the Kroger Community Pantry, a place where residents in need can come in and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, dairy and protein—all at no cost to the shopper.
“People from across multiple zip codes shop the Kroger Community Pantry,” says Mid-Ohio Food Bank Vice President, Marilyn Tomasi.There’s a sense of dignity here and never any judgment for seeking food assistance. We understand that life just happens.”
The Pantry is a shining example of Kroger’s nearly four-decades-long partnership with Mid-Ohio Foodbank and a key piece of the grocer’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative—an ambitious plan to end hunger in its communities and eliminate waste across the company by 2025.
Kroger Customers’ Commitment
Shoppers in Columbus can join Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste journey by rounding up their checkout total to the nearest dollar, or making a cash donation at the register. In 2017, Kroger customers donated nearly $1.8 million to Mid-Ohio Foodbank through these programs.
“We can’t do this alone,” says Amy McCormick, corporate affairs manager at Kroger in Columbus. “We’re pooling resources and building relationships with others in our communities who can help end hunger.”
Empowering Families
At the Kroger Community Pantry, shoppers have access to a wide variety of fresh foods. Think items like slightly bruised fruits and vegetables, cartons of milk and perfectly good cuts of meat that are used for after-school programs, meals cooked onsite for clients, or items clients can take home for their families.

One regular visitor to the Kroger Community Pantry is a former NCAA Big Ten referee who suffered a stroke, leaving unable to work. According to Tomasi, the pantry gave him access to fresh, nourishing food and helped him through that difficult time. These days, he’s not only a shopper but a regular volunteer.
Healthy Foods, Healthier Lifestyles
Kroger-area stores provide fresh produce every day to the Kroger Community Pantry at Mid-Ohio Foodbank so clients can make balanced, nutritious meals every week. Having ready access to these fresh foods made a huge impact on the overall health of another client named Toni. Her full-time job at a local warehouse didn’t pay quite enough to make ends meet to feed her family. “She returned time and again to get fruits, vegetables and healthy food,” Tomasi recalls. After a year of eating healthier foods from the Pantry, Toni managed to lose 100 pounds.
Wanting to inspire others, Toni created a blog to share some of her favorite, healthy recipes—and the life changes made possible by Kroger and Mid-Ohio Foodbank. “Toni is truly an inspiration. She teaches us now in so many ways” Tomasi says.