Brand Story - Volunteer-based shopping program meets essential needs during COVID-19.
In 1989, when the founders of Store to Door created their volunteer-based program delivering groceries to people who could not shop on their own, no one could have predicted that the nonprofit would be pushed into the limelight as an essential social service program 30 years later. Thanks to a dedicated contingent of volunteers, Executive Director Mark Fulop’s public health background, and strong community partners like Fred Meyer, Store to Door has thrived and grown into its increasingly important role.
“This is a unique year for a 30th anniversary because it both offers a time of reflection and celebration, and it represents a year where we have to step onto a bigger stage and assume a greater role in protecting the health of seniors,” says Fulop.
Store to Door volunteers shop two days a week at two Fred Meyer locations: Hollywood Fred Meyer in Northeast Portland, and Beaverton Town Center Fred Meyer. Volunteers and staff then deliver the groceries, prescriptions, and household items to their clients’ doors. Store to Door is the preferred provider for shopping assistance by Multnomah and Washington counties’ Aging, Disability and Veterans Services. It is also the only organization in Oregon that is permitted to use a client’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on their behalf. One hundred percent of Store to Door’s clients are homebound, 93 percent live alone, 80 percent are considered low income, and 80 percent are women.
In 2019, 1,467 volunteers delivered 11,315 grocery orders to 719 clients. So far in 2020, they have increased weekly grocery deliveries from 240 to well over 300. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Store to Door has modified its program to handle items safely and implement no-contact delivery.
The nonprofit’s volunteers shop two days a week and deliver groceries to people who are unable to shop on their own.
During previous years, volunteers would enter clients’ homes, help unpack items, open jars, and engage in conversation. Since they are not entering homes now, volunteers set items outside, then chat from a safe social distance. To offset the increased isolation their clients may be experiencing, Store to Door created their Friendly Caller Program, in which volunteers call clients each week for informal phone conversations. Since its inception in April, this program has received rave reviews from clients, and volunteers are now making more than 450 calls each week. “We’re hearing from folks that the social connection aspect of our program is really important,” says Fulop. “Our volunteers have really stepped up.”
Part of the program’s success has been the continued support of corporate partner Fred Meyer. Committed to Store to Door’s work in the community since the partnership began in 1989, Fred Meyer allowed the program to add a second cash register to the Beaverton store during the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave Store to Door the capacity to grow its delivery service to respond to increased need. “Fred Meyer has given us the support to expand our services to ensure that we’re reaching more seniors and at the same time continuing to find new ways to reduce social isolation,” says Fulop.
Store to Door client in her home
“Fred Meyer is proud to work with Store to Door as a partner in our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan to end hunger in the communities we call home by 2025,” said Fred Meyer Director of Corporate Affairs Jeffery Temple. “Store to Door’s efforts to end hunger by providing an affordable, personal, volunteer-based grocery shopping and delivery service has made the organization a uniquely important solution, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to continuing our strong ongoing partnership, and are very proud to have been Store to Door’s preferred grocery partner since its founding in 1989.”
Store to Door had to cancel its annual benefit gala event for 2020, but it has launched a virtual “Celebrate 30 with 30” fundraising campaign. In this peer-to-peer fundraising activity, teams have formed a friendly competition to spread the word and support Store to Door in more ways than an individual could alone. Community fundraising pages created by individuals and teams, many who are long-term volunteers and board members, give people a way to connect, celebrate and inspire.
Over the past few months, Store to Door has had to grapple with many of the same concerns that other organizations are facing about whether they can keep their doors open and how. As Store to Door celebrates 30 years in the face of a global pandemic, they are also looking forward to mapping out how they can continue the legacy for another 30 years.
“We’ve historically been a small but thriving program, and over the past few months we have had to do more problem solving,” says Fulop. “For me, the central message of this pivotal year is that it is indeed an amazing celebration of those who have helped us to get where we are today. We’re grateful that our supporters have not only allowed us to keep our doors open but continue to serve our community in an even greater way.”
For more information, visit storetodooroforegon.org and www.thekrogerco.com/sustainability/zero-hunger-zero-waste
Brand stories are paid content articles that allow Oregon Business advertisers to share news about their organizations and engage with readers on business and public policy issues. The stories are produced in house by the Oregon Business marketing department. For more information, contact associate publisher Courtney Kutzman.