While 10 million hectares of our country has been burnt and over 2,000 homes across Australia have been lost since October 2019, authorities are preparing for another heat spike and high fire danger day on Friday.
As a large employer and a grocery retailer, our primary concerns have been on three things:
1. Keeping our employees safe
2. Donating food and logistics support to get food to those people in need
3. Where possible, keeping our store network open to ensure communities have access to food
To help make this happen, an ALDI bushfire response team has been busy coordinating with State and Federal Authorities, Emergency Services, Police, valued charity partners and hundreds of ALDI employees who work or live in bushfire impacted areas of Australia.
We are pleased to report that from today, all our stores are back open for business.
We will now move to phase two of our relief activity and this involves working directly with impacted stores to support their local communities, supporting impacted business partners and inviting our customers to make a donation to Foodbank at the register (more details below).
So what are we doing to help our employees, partners and communities?
The fires have significantly affected some of our employees and we are providing direct support in the way of groceries, accommodation and counselling. During the time when some stores were closed, employees still received their wages.
We are also proud of the volunteer firefighters in our workforce who have access to nine days paid leave each year. To support this current emergency, we have extended this to four weeks paid leave for current volunteer firefighters.
We have been working closely with our food rescue partner Foodbank to ensure the much-needed supplies are getting to the right communities at the right times. Our Minchinbury, Dandenong, Derrimut and Regency Park DC’s have now donated 50 pallets of water, food and hygiene products to Foodbank. In addition to the $70,000 donation of stock, we are lending logistics support to ensure Foodbank have what they need to get product shipped around the country.
We have also provided a cash donation of $200,000 to Foodbank to help them resource their food relief program.
From tomorrow, we will be helping Foodbank raise much needed funds by opening our tills as collection points. We’ll be accepting donations and this money will be sent in full to Foodbank to help them continue their great work.
Many communities in which we operate stores have been directly affected by the bushfires. Our Batemans Bay store, on the South Coast of NSW, was forced to close on New Year’s Eve and had remained shut until this morning. Several businesses and residents in the area have had no power in their homes for the past week, spent time at the evacuation centre or were stuck in the centre of town, as major roads shut down preventing anyone from leaving.
Batemans Bay Store Manager Michael McCarron said “Usually this is our busiest time and the town is bustling with tourism but we’ve been devastated by the fire and the community is really feeling it.”
When the team came into the store after being closed for more than a week it required a full clean out. Expired food (not the mouldy lemons below) were given to the local animal charities including a pig farmer and horse stables in desperate need of food.
A group of volunteers from ALDI Australia’s head office travelled five hours south by bus to Batemans Bay to lend a hand and help replenish the store in time for its opening.
Speaking with Area Manager Lauren Crouch “It’s really great to have the volunteers here to get the store back to normal. For a lot of the staff here, so much of their lives have changed so it will be nice for them to come back to a clean, freshly restocked store to provide some normalcy for when they choose to come back to work.”
Store Manager Michael McCarron said “People miss ALDI, we have one of the largest catchments in NSW with customers coming to our store from Bega. I know they can’t wait for the store to reopen so we are very grateful for the volunteers who helped us carry out a full store remerch today”.