Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft Reveals $600,000 Donation to Simply Give
The Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft, Walker-based Meijer's community-focused inaugural LPGA golf tournament, boosted Meijer's Simply Give food pantry-supporting and hunger-fighting program on Wednesday.
Meijer LPGA Classic by Kraft representatives made a $600,000 donation to Simply Give, which helps Midwest food pantries restock their shelves and improve quality of life for thousands of families.
"From the great weather to the enthusiastic crowds, the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft was a complete success in its first year and will have a longstanding impact for a long time coming," Meijer President J.K. Symancyk said in a statement.
"The tournament afforded us an unmatched opportunity to raise awareness and funding to address hunger in the Midwest. We cannot thank the community enough for the way they embraced this tournament to help make a difference to those in need."
Attendance figures have not yet been released, but representatives from Meijer and the LPGA said the tournament exceeded expectations. Tournament organizers believe its impact meant $4 million to $7 million to the local economy. Kraft was Meijer's primary corporate partner for the 72-hole event.
"We are thrilled with the response and turnout that we received from the Grand Rapids community at the inaugural Meijer LPGA Classic," LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said. "With that continued community support, and the backing and vision of our partners at Meijer, Kraft and Blythefield Country Club, we look forward to building a new tradition in West Michigan that will only get stronger over time."
Meijer began its Simply Give program in November 2008. The program has donated more than $9.0 million for the more than 200 food pantries in the communities it serves through its 207 stores in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky.
The $600,000 donation will be divided among the retailer's estimated 200 food pantry partners taking part in Simply Give's fall campaign, which runs through Sept. 27.
Of the donation, $40,000 will be divided equally among four food pantries chosen by Carla Hall, co-host of ABC Daytime's lifestyle series, "The Chew," after winning the Meijer LPGA Celebrity Chef Cookoff presented by Kraft. She beat out two other chefs -- Cat Cora and Gail Simmons -- after the event's guests voted on their favorite menus.
Hall chose the following food pantries to receive $10,000 each:
- Love INC, of Hudsonville.
- United Church Outreach Food Pantry, of Grand Rapids.
- North End Community Food Pantry, of Grand Rapids.
- Northwest Food Pantry & Resource Center, of Grand Rapids
"Without the Simply Give program, our shelves would literally be bare," said Waverly Knight, assistant director of Northwest Food Pantry, which feeds about 150 families each week. "Every week, there are new families coming to our pantry, some of which have never been inside a food pantry. Life happens a little too much, and we are very grateful for how the Meijer Simply Give program helps us feed people in our neighborhood."
To participate in the Simply Give program, customers can purchase a $10 donation card at Meijer stores. Those are converted into Meijer food-only gift cards and given to the food pantry selected by each store.
Meijer is matching customers' donation further Sept. 4 to 6 in recognition of Hunger Action Month. For every $10 donation card purchase, Meijer is to contribute another $20.
Each year, Meijer donates more than 6 percent of its net profit to charities throughout the Midwest. With hunger as a corporate philanthropic focus, Meijer partners with hundreds of food banks and pantries through its Simply Give and food-rescue programs. Meijer also supports education, disaster relief, health and wellness initiatives and youth, scholastic and collegiate athletics through its community programs.
<h4>Inaugural Meijer LPGA Classic</h4>
Lee claimed her first LPGA Tour victory on Aug. 10 with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff against fellow South Korean Inbee Park, who just won the Wegmans LPGA Championship on Sunday in Pittsford, N.Y.
For the Meijer LPGA Classic win, Lee carded a 2-under 69 to match Park at 14-under 270. Park's final 18 holes were 1-under 70.
"I was 100 percent nervous because (it was) my first time in playoff on LPGA so I'm really nervous, but very fun," Lee said. "Inbee is like a hero in Korea. She is a very good player, so I try to follow her."
The 72-hole, stroke-play event at Blythefield's 18-hole, 6,859-yard layout was the LPGA Tour's first Michigan stop since 2000, when the Oldsmobile Classic ended a nine-year run in East Lansing. It was also the first regular pro golf tour stop in Michigan's Lower Peninsula since 2009, when the PGA Tour's Buick Open was held in Grand Blanc.