The two-store test was pronounced a success. Nearly $9,000 had come in over the summer at the check stands of Gerrards Market and the Lucky Store in Redlands. Grants had already been given to three local agencies and one small agricultural project in Puerto Rico. Bob Byrd, then pastor of Magnolia Presbyterian Church and President of the Riverside Coalition on World Hunger, had done a great job of helping us put together a steering committee for the expansion phase of the FOOD FOR ALL program. We sent letters to all the retail grocers in the area and followed up with personal visits to each independent market owner. We received a positive response from the independents and had commitments from seven of them by early October. In addition we had the go-ahead from Bob Inadomi, President of JonSons Markets to test FOOD FOR ALL displays in his East Los Angeles store, with plans to expand to their other four stores later in the year. We were still waiting for Lucky Stores to respond.
Just before the October 21 kickoff date we got the call from our friend Dick Fredericksen, VP of Lucky, that allowed us to include four of their stores. We were frantically working to set up displays in our twelve expanded test stores: Calimesa Food Fair, Ron's Foods, Uli's Gourmet Foods, Super Saver, La Sierra Market, Glen Avon Market, and three more Lucky Stores in the Riverside metro.
Ab Brown, then Mayor of Riverside, hosted a kickoff luncheon at Riverside City Hall on Tuesday, October 21, attended by two dozen people, including owners of four of the independent markets and the Lucky Stores District Manager. Separate events were held at the Glen Avon Market and JonSons Market in LA on the following day. We were off and running. Customers were supporting the program. Store employees were willing to help educate customers, as our volunteers tirelessly showed up to educate them and hand out informational flyers outside their stores. By the end of November more than $15,000 had been donated. Grants were given to four local Riverside organizations: Arlington Welfare Association, Lutheran Social Services, Friends Outside, and Survive Food Bank.
Before the end of December we even "went to Hollywood." One of our volunteers who shopped at the Beachwood Market, which sits just under the Hollywood sign, approached the owner and told him about FOOD FOR ALL. He was enthusiastic at what he heard and we held a special holiday kickoff event at Beachwood Market. Many of the Hollywood celebrities lived in the neighborhood and shopped there.
We were off to a great start. Where do we go from here?