This year, Georgia-based Service Foods, Inc. brought home the Natural Products Association’s Socially Responsible Retailer Award.This award recognizes a member company for excellence in integrating social responsibility into its business. Natural Foods Merchandiser spoke with Keith Kantor, CEO, to find out how Service Foods truly serves its customers, the public, and the environment.
Natural Foods Merchandiser: How do you provide education in store?
Keith Kantor: What we do is different. We don’t just sell natural foods. When shoppers buy food from us, they also get access to registered dieticians, nurses, naturopathic doctors, and certified fitness experts. We’ll set them up on a training program or set up a menu for them based on their history. All the education and information is free.
The bottom line is if you can truly have an effect on the health of your community, and really make a difference among just few percent, a few percent of a few hundred thousand really adds up. That’s really giving back to your community.
NFM: How do you reach the public through your health fairs?
KK: Our health fairs offer blood pressure and glucose testing, healthy meal cooking demonstrations, and exercise demonstrations for employees of large companies, cities, and nonprofit organizations. Often, we’ll have a Q&A with myself or one of our licensed dieticians. In most cases, we hold the fair right in their offices.
This is one great way to be involved in the community because they don’t have to buy anything and the fair itself is free. If every time we do one, we teach two or three people—and hopefully it’s more like 200 or 300 people—to eat healthier foods, it’s a big win.
NFM: How did you go about earning the Certified Carbon Neutral label?
KK: The first thing we did was partner with a company to do a survey of our business and recommend ways to lower our footprint. A lot of things we were doing already, like recycling paper or going more paperless, having more people commute via public transit or carpool, having more people work at home, and things of that nature. Then, they set up a project for us in south Georgia where we bought trees to make up for any footprint we had left through the CO2 absorbed and the oxygen given out by the trees.
NFM: How do you educate kids about healthy eating through Green Box Foods?
KK: We came out with a book called Green Box League of Nutritious Justice, which teaches children and adults how to live a healthy lifestyle in a fun way with comics and coloring. We’ve created about 26 different stories and each has a health theme. We have good guys like Knute Trition, Ed Ucation, and X.R. Cise, and bad guys like Sugar Shark and Salt Snake. In the free Green Box Heroes app, we animated the stories and provide coloring and spelling activities children can do right in the app.
The idea was if we could get the children and families to see it, hear it, color it, and spell it, maybe we could teach them that an apple is healthier than a cupcake. They don’t teach that in schools so we have to do it ourselves.