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Local first: IFD Foodservice Distributor launches campaign to encourage employees to shop local

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IFD Foodservice Distributor employees 200 people and distributes food to many locations throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin daily.

A local food provider is taking initiative to get their employees contributing to the local economy.

As part of a renewed focus on providing direct support to local businesses, IFD Foodservice Distributor in Eau Claire has introduced an incentive program that empowers employees to buy local.

IFD’s Support Local initiative connects its 200 employees and their families with local businesses. Starting July 19 as an ongoing initiative, IFD employees are encouraged to make purchases at foodservice establishments in the Chippewa Valley.

When they do so, Local Support cards are given to the server and restaurant owner in appreciation of their hospitality. By returning the card to The Market at IFD (formerly known as the IFD Warehouse Store), the owner and server are entered into weekly contests.

For the owner, the opportunity of a business credit and for the server, a prize drawing. Additionally, special offers in the store are given for those returning the card.

Jessie Braun, sales and marketing administrator for IFD Foodservice Distributor, said the campaign was created because IFD knows its employees are going to restaurants already, so they might as well support local businesses first when they do so.

“This is essentially being created to start a community group to support the Chippewa Valley,” Braun said. “We want to get our employees involved in giving back to the businesses that help support IFD. We know they’re going out to restaurants, so we are trying to encourage them to pick places that are local or independently owned first instead of national chain restaurants that are everywhere. The hope is that money will circulate back into the Chippewa Valley economy.”

The idea for the support local campaign stretches back more than a year, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and changed the economic landscape of not just the United States, but the world at large.

“COVID-19 wasn’t a contributing factor, but this campaign is coming at a good time to combat the effects of it,” Braun said. “We’ve been thinking about this for over a year, so it’s just a coincidence. But everyone needs support right now.”

Going forward IFD Foodservice Distributor said the goal for the program is to see it grow and involve exclusive deals and prizes at different locations to cater to that businesses ideals and themes.

While the employees’ willingness to choose local first and the economic impact this will have on the Chippewa Valley economy are variables to the success of this campaign, Braun said the desired outcome is to see the community benefit from it in whatever form that takes.

“The best scenario is if everyone who works at IFD feels involved, important and significant,” Braun said. “They should feel their money, time and choices really matter to their community. If we happen to develop new relationships with restaurants, that’s just a great byproduct. This is all about getting our employees involved in our great community.”


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