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Grocery Worker's Relief Fund Gains Ground 

Partnership Providing Emergency Support with Cash Cards - Grocery Workers Can Apply Starting October 1 
by Cyril Penn
September 14, 2020


In late March, a team at Jackson Family Wines was meeting discussing initiatives to help others in the community. The company had done some things to support local firefighters and hospital workers, among other charitable initiatives, and the team was brainstorming what else to possibly do. 

Someone suggested helping front line grocery store workers, “an ah-ha moment,” according to Bill O’Connor, EVP and Chief Sales Officer for Jackson Family Wines. 

However, it turned out that no grocery relief fund existed so Kendall Jackson started looking into starting one, contacting retail and wholesale partners. Southern Glazers’ Wine & Spirits Chairman Wayne Chaplin connected O’Connor with the UFCW. 

“We found that retailers all did great things for their own employees but that there wasn’t a fund that had been created,” O’Connor said. “Everyone I talked to about (possibly starting a fund) got excited about the idea.”

Ultimately, Kendall-Jackson connected with the United Way and two weeks ago  announced the launch of the Grocery Worker’s Relief Fund, pledging an initial $200,000 for the first year, and $2 million by 2030.

During a video conference call last week that included Suzanne Mccormick of the United Way; the entire Jackson, Hartford and Banke family; as well as others in and outside of the wine industry, a group of long-time Jackson Family distributor partners pledged support. 

The fund has now surpassed $600,000 and O’Connor said it is really just getting going. 

”We’re hoping this fund grows into tens of millions of dollars, supported by the other companies, not only in wine, but in liquor, beer, and the big consumer goods companies,” O’Connor said. “If United Way is able to bring in a Proctor & Gamble, Kellogg or a Unilever, it would be fantastic.”

“This is an amazing idea to help these front-line heroes who have really kept us in business,” Chaplin said during the call. 

“I’ve been involved with the United Way for a long time,” Republic National partner Alan Dreeban said during the call while  pledging support. “United Way is probably your best bang for the buck, their operating costs are probably the least of any philanthropic organization.” Dreeban is a member at large and sits on the executive committee of the United Way. 

The sentiments were echoed with support pledged by distributors in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

“The grocery workers are really unsung heroes, Barbara Banke said during the call. “We want to help as much as we can. We’re going to launch this fund, we’re going to seed it with some money and raise more, and put in more, and hope it grows to a monumental level.” 

Besides cash cards, the fund will connect workers with holistic local help through the 211 network, a national social services helpline. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis with funds awarded as resources allow. Workers can apply for the funds beginning October 1, 2020, by visiting

To donate to the Grocery Worker’s Relief Fund, visit


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