In this episode of Capital for Good, we speak with Stephen Grimaldi, the executive director of New York Common Pantry, and John MacDonald and Scott Crawford, the chief marketing and chief merchandising officers of FreshDirect, about the extraordinary partnership these two organizations forged in the height of the pandemic. 

In this conversation, we learn how New York Common Pantry — founded in 1980 to reduce hunger, and promote dignity, health and self-sufficiency — and FreshDirect — a pioneer of online grocery — came together in a moment of crisis. In the early days of the pandemic, both organizations faced a surge in demand. In the case of FreshDirect, this came from the millions of New Yorkers who looked to online shopping and delivery for nourishment. For NYCP, food insecurity doubled early on in the pandemic, just when the Pantry’s volunteer base could no longer pack or serve meals. Building off an initial relationship between the organizations’ leaders, FreshDirect provided support in numerous forms, including sourcing, packing, and delivering food, marketing, events, and perhaps most “transformational,” according to Grimaldi: an easy way for grocery shoppers to donate directly to Common Pantry. With New York Common Pantry donations listed as a product SKU on the FreshDirect website, the online grocer’s customers have contributed more than $4 million dollars, which equates to more than 3 million meals, since the start of the pandemic. According to MacDonald and Crawford, the collaboration has been a “shining star” for the company internally. They also believe that by making community engagement easy for their customers, the partnership has reinforced loyalty to a brand and company with deep stakeholder commitment. We end with a discussion of the partnership going forward — and as a potential model for others.

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