Contact: Marie L. McGeehan at Casey Communications, Inc., 314/962-0944, or Dee Wetzel at Schnuck Markets, Inc., 314/994-4608.

April 3, 1998

Schnucks Tops List of Operation Food Search Donors; Donates More Than $4 Million in Food to Hungry in 1997

Schnuck Markets, Inc. donated more than $4.1 million worth of groceries to Operation Food Search in 1997, making Schnucks the largest single contributor among 800 donors. Schnucks' donation equates to 3.7 million pounds of food which generated 3.5 million meals for needy people, one out of every three meals Operation Food Search serves.

Given the average American eats nearly 1,500 pounds of food annually, Schnucks' donation fed approximately 2,500 St. Louisans last year.

"We are pleased to support Operation Food Search because they are an excellent organization providing safe and nutritional food to needy people in our community," said Nancy Diemer, Schnucks director of community affairs.

Schnucks' contribution enabled Operation Food Search to reach its highest annual collection total ever of $12.8 million worth of food. Operation Food Search, founded in 1981, is the largest distributor of free food in the area and distributes canned foods, surplus perishables and prepared foods to 200 emergency food pantries in 19 counties in Missouri and Illinois.

Schnucks contributes bakery, dairy, deli, frozen food, grocery and produce items from its stores that are no longer saleable for a variety of reasons. The food item might be approaching a freshness expiration date or be mislabeled or mispackaged. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report in fall 1997 that stated 96 billion pounds of food are discarded annually.

"We put a great deal of effort into being good caretakers of food," said Diemer. "No one wants to see good food wasted. Thanks to the efforts of all our associates throughout our organization, good food does not go to waste."

Schnucks also donates food from its advertising department, bakery department, corporate cafeteria, grocery warehouse, Mid States Dairy, perishable warehouse, Schnucks Kitchen and reclamation center.

Operation Food Search Director Sunny Schaefer says a $27 billion drop in available food stamps over the next five years will probably increase the number of people seeking help from pantries. Increasing numbers of people who are working but not earning enough to make ends meet also are looking to emergency food pantries for help.

"The need for food donations continues to increase. The grocery industry as a whole is very supportive and we appreciate Schnucks' outstanding support and leadership. We hope other organizations who are not already donating will do so," says Schaeffer.

Operation Food Search works with Schnucks' individual stores, facilities and departments to educate Schnucks associates on what to save and to establish pickup schedules with Operation Food Search agencies. By adding more stores to the program, Schnucks' donations increased from $2.9 million worth of groceries in 1996 to $4.1 million in 1997.

Schnucks' customers also have helped Operation Food Search reach its record total. For six weeks a year, Schnucks customers and other grocery store shoppers donate to Operation Food Search and the St. Louis Area Food Bank in the Hunger Never Takes a Vacation program held each summer. In 1997, generous Schnucks customers donated close to $40,000.

Operation Food Search pantries and agencies pass a rigorous annual certification program and receive sanitation training to ensure food safety.