Following a year where society saw many great acts of selflessness and helping others in need, Henny Penny continued its legacy of impactful, intentional giving to hunger relief initiatives through an equipment donation to Gem City Market, a newly opened community owned cooperative grocery store in Dayton, Ohio.
Henny Penny, a commercial foodservice equipment manufacturer, donated state-of-the-art kitchen equipment and training to Gem City Market in support of their mission to bring fresh, healthy, affordable foods to local residents.
“We are a 64-year-old company that has been employee owned since 2015, and that sense of ownership and engagement really drives a culture in which we collectively create a positive environment to work and grow,” said Henny Penny Chairman and CEO, Rob Connelly. “Within that culture, we have placed a strong emphasis on relationships…relationships with our customers, suppliers and especially with the community. We believe our company should play an active part in contributing to, and supporting, the community where we live and work.”
Gem City Market addresses the challenges created by large commercial supermarkets moving out of the area, creating a food desert, or an area in which community members lack convenient access to fresh produce, healthy foods and reasonable prices. “I met Lela Klein (co-executive director of Co-op Dayton) when she was just beginning her mission of positioning the cooperative model as a solution,” said Connelly. “Hunger relief is one of our primary areas of philanthropic focus, so we were naturally drawn to the project. But there’s also a deeper alignment between our organizations’ values. We know the concept of ownership is powerful and rewarding.”
As for how a company like Henny Penny, which supplies equipment to restaurants including Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s, as well as large chain supermarkets, became involved with the Gem City Market, Connelly has the answer. “I knew we could not only offer Gem City equipment and resources, but we could also offer expertise, guidance and access to our network,” said Connelly. “We have experience working with supermarkets. I knew Henny Penny could be very engaged with the project, especially during the planning stages when they expressed interest in offering hot, freshly prepared food. At that point, it was as simple as understanding their ideal vision, menu, and space. Then we were able to involve our chefs, our sales specialists, really our entire team and provide the necessary equipment to bring it to life.”
In addition to aiding in the design and equipment selection and providing extensive product training, Henny Penny has been able to assist Gem City Market in other ways. “This fit with our mission to help the community, it fit with our industry knowledge, and it also fit with our interest in fighting hunger,” said Connelly, who also serves as the President of the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM). “As a company, we are also interested in education, in helping people cook healthy meals and providing them access to fresh affordable ingredients. This project allowed us to achieve all those goals and reaching the broader Dayton community through our involvement with Gem City.”
The equipment package provided by Henny Penny donation allows the co-op to operate a full-service hot food deli in addition to providing fresh meats and produce to its customers. The high-volume pressure fryer, a multi-well open fryer, two combi ovens and a heated holding cabinet enables Gem City Market to offer foods ranging from fresh-breaded fried chicken to an array of baked, grilled and roasted items.
With a recipe of commitment to its customers, its employee owners and the community it calls home, Henny Penny has found the ingredients for success.
Learn more about Henny Penny at their website.