- Kraft is launching a grocery store pop-up in Washington, D.C. to help federal government workers during the partial shutdown, according to a company statement. The store will be open from January 16th to the 20th.
- Federal workers with a valid government ID will be able participate in the "Kraft Now Pay Later" program. They will be allowed to shop and take a free full bag of Kraft products. Kraft is requesting that workers donate to a charity once they return to work.
- The store, less than two miles from the U.S. Capitol, will offer Kraft products including macaroni and cheese, salad dressing, mayonnaise and BBQ sauce.
The partial government shutdown is now the longest in U.S. history. For 26 days, about 800,000 workers have experienced the impact of the shutdown firsthand. Many of the people live in the Washington D.C. area, so Kraft, part of food conglomerate Kraft Heinz, picked the nation's capital to launch this pop-up.
The company could be making a statement by giving away its products to government employees during this stalemate between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats. Politics and food is a controversial partnership. Studies have shown that consumers don't always like their food to be served with a side of political speech. But regardless, companies have become more political recently, like when Ben & Jerry's released a new flavor to fight Trump's agenda.
Yet, this instance might be seen as an exception. Kraft was careful not to condemn any specific side in its announcement of the pop-up grocery store. Instead, the company kept the messaging about those who may not be able to put food on the table because of the shutdown.
“Kraft stands for families and we want to support the families who have built our brands. This store is one way we can help those affected get the grocery staples they need," Sergio Eleuterio, head of marketing for Kraft, said in a statement.
Consumers want food companies to support good causes and this effort could be seen as a more neutral way to help those going without pay. Creating a philanthropic reputation among consumers, and giving away products for free, could help create a more loyal shopper base of people who will return to buy these products when the shutdown ends.
Are you a federal worker in D.C? We are opening a store tomorrow (Jan 16) to help federal government workers during the government shutdown. Come grab some groceries and help keep your family dinner business as usual. More about it here: https://t.co/bQT5q28VU8 pic.twitter.com/mJHrautIYV— Kraft (@KraftBrand) January 15, 2019
Federal employees impacted by the shutdown have already been using food banks, according to NPR. About 250,000 federal employees live in the Washington region. The biggest food aid organization in the area, the Capital Area Food Bank, organized five pop-up food distribution centers for government employees.
Selecting Washington gives Kraft publicity and a larger reach than other areas of the country. Others in the food industry also are stepping in during the shutdown to support furloughed workers, including chef José Andrés .
But no other big food company has offered the same service. Kraft Heinz, a major player in the food space, could spur other companies to help furloughed workers. Depending on how consumers respond to the pop-up and how its involvement in the political fight is perceived, it could start a bigger movement where companies find ways to get involved during controversies like this one.