H-E-B’s public affairs manager Felicia Peña shares how the grocery store is keeping Austin fed.

By Felicia Peña, Photo courtesy of Ben Porter Photography

As a company, H-E-B is relentlessly dissatisfied, continuously striving for better, not only in the products we provide to our customers, but in the ways we engage with our community. And as an H-E-B partner (what we call our employees), I quickly found myself taking personal pride in those traits, leaving the office every day with this urge to be better, to be kind and to be helpful.

A few days into my job at H-E-B in 2018, I quickly learned that every day is different. I remain inspired, always ready to step up to new challenges and innovate. While many of my days are spent on community engagement, philanthropy and media relations, a few times a year we’re called to support relief efforts for unfortunate local disasters. Whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, fire or a pandemic, Texans know they can rely on H-E-B to support them during hard times. Our company began planning for the COVID-19 pandemic months before we started to grapple with it as a nation. Having plans in place allowed our partners to be able to quickly adjust to this ever-changing situation, but it also allowed us to give: give our time, talent and treasure; give our customers structure and assurance; give our partners protection and pay raises; and give our communities the meals, materials and support they need to get through this together.

One of the most important things that has come from this crisis is the creative partnerships that have so quickly formed, allowing our local nonprofits to serve thousands of people each week. A past career in fundraising for the Central Texas Food Bank provided me with the knowledge and understanding of how to most effectively support nonprofit organizations during a time of crisis. Our city is well known for innovation, and the groups and organizations that exist to serve the public continue to uphold this reputation, creating opportunity and providing hope. The most effective way to make lasting positive change is to work together. We must trust the experts and ask how we can help before providing a solution.

This mindset allowed H-E-B to be among the first to build partnerships with Capital Metro and Austin Independent School District to feed our most vulnerable neighbors, including children, seniors and immunocompromised citizens, while simultaneously supporting the Central Texas Food Bank as they built out emergency food boxes for thousands of Austin residents.

When 2020 began, my resolution was to reflect daily on new experiences, anything from exploring a new running trail, trying out a new restaurant or connecting with a different nonprofit. I’ve adjusted my daily reflections now to include gratitude. I am thankful for my H-E-B family, for the team that shares this incessant spirit of giving, for the thousands of partners across Texas who show up ready to serve, for the teachers, nonprofits and first responders who uplift our community, and for the customers who trust us to keep them safe and healthy.

So, thank you Austin. We look forward to continuing to serve you, because at H-E-B, people matter.



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