Natural Grocers establishes charity organization

The company’s Heroes in Apron Fund will become the umbrella organization for all of its charitable efforts including financial assistance for its employees in need and charity donations.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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What began as a fund to assist its associates and staff in need during the peak COVID-19 pandemic months, The Natural Grocers Heroes in Apron Fund has now been established as a nonprofit organization recognized by the IRS, and the organic retailer is pooling all of its long-standing charitable work under the newly established organization.

For 60 years, Natural Grocers has been providing various philanthropic services but the Heroes in Aprons Fund has motivated the company to establish a 501c3. Natural Grocers will use the fund to continue to provide short-term financial assistance to its employees, also known as the good4u Crew, experiencing hardships such as family members who are sick, employees hit with natural disasters and any other unforeseen circumstances. The fund will also provide direct grants to its various charity partners.

Funds will be raised through in-store programs like rounding up at the register after buying own brand and national brand goods, and other sales-based giveback programs and company initiatives. Natural Grocers will also collect corporate donations and give donations to the fund.

The first program being held for Heroes in Aprons is a 66th anniversary celebration where 1% of all sales on Aug. 12 will be donated to the charity. Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Lakewood, Colo., operates nearly 160 stores across 20 states.

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“Our good4u Crew and communities are the backbone of this company and supporting their health and wellbeing goes beyond free nutrition education and affordable, nutritious groceries,” said Kemper Isely, Natural Grocers chair and co-president. “Along with our customers, we have always been active supporters of our good4u Crew and causes that sustain the flourishing of our communities. We are proud to officially launch Heroes in Aprons to further our continued charitable efforts.”

Since the organic grocer’s beginning in 1955 it has made charitable giving a core principle. Co-founder Margaret Isely kept a community food cabinet at the first store from which she would give families in need the ingredients for a nutritious meal. Over the subsequent decades, Natural Grocers has developed enduring partnerships with various charities that better the lives of the communities in the 20 states the company serves. Charitable partners include organizations that focus on fighting food insecurity, fostering sustainability and protecting the planet, providing relief to communities impacted by natural disasters, civil rights advocacy, and scholarship endowments for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).