For Ruth Johnson, a Front-end associate in Suffolk, Virginia, Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste mission is more than a company program – it’s personal.


Growing up, having a consistent supply of food on the table was tough for her family of eight. “Back in the day, when my mom and dad couldn’t provide for us, we would go to a food pantry. Times were hard back then.”


Those experiences have given Ruth the passion she has today for encouraging customers and associates to fight hunger and ensure nothing goes to waste. Her strategies are simple: encourage and engage.
“We have those nice Zero Hunger | Zero Waste bins in the front of the store and when I’m on a register, I encourage people to buy extra food to donate and help out those people who are less fortunate,” she says.


She says her fellow associates are also very willing to help. “I always push everyone to do whatever they can to help someone else,” she says. Borrowing a bit of wisdom from her grandmother, she says she often reminds them that “it’s always better to give than to receive.”


Store Leader Donati High sees Ruth in action every day. “Ruth stands out because she doesn’t do what she does for thanks and applause,” he says. “She knows that when you do good, good things come back to you.” So, when the call came out for Zero Hero nominees, Donati says Ruth’s name rose above the rest.


Donati also points out Ruth’s demeanor of “quiet strength,” and says she’s always been “committed to proper behavior and best practice execution.” That commitment makes a difference when it comes to achieving zero waste. Ruth explains that she’s very particular about making sure unwanted items get back to their departments from the front-end so that absolutely nothing goes to waste.


Ruth carries Zero Hunger | Zero Waste into her community as well. She’s deeply involved with her church, including its food pantry. She has helped Balm of Gilead Missionary Baptist Church organize multiple food distributions, feeding thousands of local residents in need.


“If I can help anybody out, I will do that,” she says.


Ruth has an undeniable passion for helping people and says having the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste program in her store makes her proud to work for Kroger. “I just love it. I really love it. It makes me want to do more.”