Use Your Grocery Money to Give Back: 10 Brands That Do Good With Your Dollars

·9 min read
High angle view of pie chart made of colorful building blocks and small shopping cart on pink background
High angle view of pie chart made of colorful building blocks and small shopping cart on pink background

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To walk into a grocery store in the United States is to be bombarded with choices. The cereal aisle alone might have 50 different cold breakfast options and don't get me started on cheeses, canned goods, and milks. Every item comes in endless varieties; running to the store for a loaf of bread or a dozen eggs now requires expert comparative analysis skills.

Beyond the details of the actual foodstuffs (price, preference, dietary needs, and more), there's also an element of social and environmental responsibility. Simply put, not all food brands are created equally. Some companies are intentional about making the world a better place and some are not. Knowing which ones are giving back in meaningful ways can be helpful in the grocery decision-making process. When choosing between two items that look pretty much the same, choose the one that pays off school lunch debt for hungry kids. Easy peasy. Equipped with a list of national brands that are doing good, you can shop easier by knowing your grocery dollars are going further. Here are 10 brands to support.

RELATED: 9 Smart, Simple Ways to Save Money on Groceries

Newman's Own: Fighting Child Hunger

When Paul Newman founded Newman's Own in 1982 he declared he would "give it all away," and the company has been doing exactly that for 50 years, donating more than $570 million to local and national organizations. The company is incredibly transparent about its aims and how much it gives; an updated tax return is available for anyone to download from its website. Their three focus areas are nutrition security for indigenous children (supporting local organizations in New Mexico and South Dakota), nutritious food in schools (supporting FoodCorps and the Food Research & Action Center), and joyful experiences for children with serious illnesses (supporting the SeriousFun Children's Network). In 2022, Newman's Own also made donations to organizations focused on food and health in Illinois, California, and Florida, and Wisconsin. With an array of products, ranging from salad dressing and popcorn to pet food and lemonade, Newman's Own makes it easy for consumers to support their nationwide fight against childhood hunger.

Annie's: Sustainability and Education

Annie's does more than make mouthwatering mac and cheese. The company (and its parent corporation, General Mills) is also devoted to sustainable farming as a main avenue for uplifting local communities, ensuring soil health, and increasing biodiversity on hundreds of thousands of acres in the United States and Canada. Their annual sustainability report, which Annie's has been putting forth since 2011, relies on a variety of non-financial key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to show how their practices impact a healthier planet and, therefore, healthier communities. By partnering with local farms and using regenerative farming practices like crop rotation and integrated livestock management, Annie's is supporting local farmers and keeping their products climate-friendly. The company also promotes healthy eating and growing by granting college scholarships for young adults studying sustainable agriculture, working with FoodCorps, and giving grants to support more than 500 school gardens.

Endangered Species Chocolate: Supporting Independent West African Farmers & Preserving Endangered Species

If you're going to be buying chocolate (and you should), why not buy the kind that is both delicious and donates 10% of your purchase to independent farmers in West Africa and organizations that protect endangered species? In 2020, this company donated $500,000 to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and the National Forest Foundation. That money went towards restoring nearly 5,000 acres of wildlife habitat in the United States and removing 2,500 gorilla snares. Endangered chocolate has also donated more than $300,000 to local farming communities in Cote D'Ivoire (the Ivory Coast) in West Africa. Look for the elephant on the label next time you're picking up a bar (or five) of chocolate to help support these worthy causes.

Grounds and Hounds Coffee Co.: Saving Rescue Dogs

Millions of dogs languish in packed shelters across the United States. They've been abandoned, saved from puppy mills, and suffered abuse at the hands of callous humans. While those working at shelters do everything they can to care for these pups, there's often a limit to how much is possible. Food, space, and caregiver hours are not infinite resources. Enter Grounds and Hounds. The company's stated mission is to "support rescue initiatives and organizations providing a second chance for pups in need." To that end, they donate 20% of every purchase to organizations across the country. That money has added up to over 2 million shelter meals so far, among other achievements. So, sure, Starbucks and Dunkin are on every corner, but brewing at home will save you money and feed a pup at the same time. Plus, they have cute t-shirts.

DAVIDsTEA: Ethical Sourcing, Mental Health, Sustainability

Next time you're steeping some relaxing rooibos tea, you can be even calmer by knowing that your steaming beverage has been sustainably produced and sourced by a company that is invested in mental health and the prosperity of local farmers. DAVIDsTEA is a Canadian brand with a commitment to supporting the local agricultural communities that grow their teas, partnering with mental health initiatives (like Mamas for Mamas and Vent Over Tea), and championing eco-friendly practices (like compostable packaging). The company is a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which works to improve the lives of tea workers and farmers, donating proceeds from 60% of its teas to the organization. In addition, they support the South African Homework Facility to provide a safe space for children of tea farmers to learn, and their clean water project has provided upwards of 2,600 Nepalese children with clean drinking water.

King Arthur Baking: Fighting Hunger, Supporting STEM Learning, Community Building, and Sustainability

Founded in 1790, King Arthur Baking has been producing its superbly milled flours for over 230 years, adding specialty flours and mixes to its roster over time. You can now buy Chocolate Keto Cake Mix and Gluten Free Dessert Cups alongside the brand's signature whole wheat and self-rising flours, among many other excellent products. More than that, though, the company has put its values at the forefront of all it does. The five core pillars of the brand's community work are Food and Hunger, Environmental Stewardship, Building Community Through Baking, Diversity and Inclusion, and Volunteerism. King Arthur Baking pays employees to volunteer at local organizations, has donated over $750,000 to environmental nonprofits, and works with Bake for Good to teach kids STEM subjects through baking—and those efforts are just the tip of the iceberg. Next time you're reaching for a cake mix, consider buying one that will impact how much good this company can do.

Dave's Killer Bread: Second Chance Employment, Sustainability

Bread done right is downright comforting—not to mention nutritious and satisfying. Dave's Killer Bread is all that and more. Named after Dave Dahl, a second-generation baker, this bread company both makes an array of mouthwatering breads and gives ex-convicts a second chance through their Second Chances employment program. Dave himself served a prison sentence, and baking bread was a key part of his journey to rebuild his life afterward. The company's mission states that the people behind it have "witnessed first-hand that someone's past does not define their future, and that sometimes giving someone a chance is all they need." This both informs the company's hiring practices and has led to the creation of the DKB Foundation, an organization that assists other companies in starting a second chance employment program of their own. And if that wasn't enough, all of DKB's breads are organic and non-GMO. You can find the loaves online or at stores across the United States—even at Costco.

Chobani: Fighting Childhood Hunger, Eliminating School Lunch Debt, Supporting Disaster Relief, Local Community Grants

When it comes to supporting communities and giving back to folks in need, Chobani is not playing around. This company has made it a priority to ensure it's "using food as a force for good" in a slew of ways. Chobani is fighting childhood hunger by spearheading the #FillUpTheirPlate initiative, through which the company encourages local businesses to donate school lunches in the community where they operate. Chobani also advocates for the Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2019, which would prohibit schools from stigmatizing or otherwise discriminating against children who receive assistance in paying for a meal. Through the Chobani Community Impact Fund, the company has supported diverse community needs, from granting scholarships to kids in the towns where Chobani operates to donating a refrigerated truck so that perishable food could safely get to food banks in Idaho. They've donated 6.5 million cups of yogurt to food banks and millions more to frontline workers providing disaster relief with the American Red Cross. This is yogurt worth supporting.

Clif Bar: Sustainable Agriculture, Small Grants, Supporting Community Organizations

Energy bars abound in the checkout aisle, but not all of them are doing the heavy lifting that Clif Bars do. The Clif Bar Family Foundation focuses on giving small grants to many grassroots organizations that serve and uplift local populations. The foundation supports access to nutritious food, local agricultural initiatives, and conservation efforts, among other things. Some of its 1,048 grantees include 596 Acres, Inc. (transforming vacant lots into organic community gardens across New York City), Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) (providing tools for farmers with limited resources in North Carolina), and the Alliance for Climate Education (providing high schoolers with accurate climate information across all 50 states). In addition, Clif Bar promotes the use of organic seeds in an effort to limit pollution, promote soil health and biodiversity, and put healthier food on our tables through its Seed Matters program. So if you're considering which granola bar to grab, maybe a Clif Bar is a good choice.

RIND: Fighting Food Waste and Childhood Hunger

Speaking of snacks, these are made with a plan to reduce food waste as much as possible and combat childhood hunger. By making dried fruit snacks that include the rinds and peels, RIND saved 340,000 pounds of food waste in 2021 and aims to save 1 million pounds in 2022. According to Feeding America, food waste in the United States is a huge problem—approximately 108 billion pounds of food is wasted each year. RIND aims to minimize this waste as it pertains to fruits by leaving the peels on, which also serves to add nutrients to our snacks; it turns out that the peel is the healthiest part of the fruit. If that wasn't enough of a win-win for you, the company has also launched an anti-hunger initiative they're calling Love Is RIND. In partnership with local and national organizations, RIND has donated 35,000 bags of snacks to kids in need across the United States.

Knowing that your shopping budget is going towards worthy causes and making a real difference in the lives of real people can make a supermarket trip empowering, even joyful. By supporting like-minded organizations, you can put your values in your grocery cart as you shop.