How A Grocery Store's Record-Setting Feat Will Help People In Need

It's a given that grocery stores feed people. Or at the very least, they make food available for those with the means to pay. But when families fall on hard times and food inflation hits the pocketbooks of every consumer, some supermarket chains take "feeding people" to new heights. In the case of SpartanNash grocers and food distributors, headquartered in Michigan, those heights are literal this year – and so are the lengths.

A group of interns and associate volunteers at SpartanNash rose to the challenge of creating something so big that it won a world record while also contributing directly to food-related needs within their own community, according to the SpartanNash Facebook page. The all-immersive collaborative project hit core elements of cohesive community engagement: volunteering, training new generations through internships, reducing food insecurity, and strengthening teamwork skills for future success.

Here's how all those elements came together in a Michigan parking lot, culminating in a Guinness World Record and almost 6,000 food items arriving at a local nonprofit organization.

Giving high and wide

The name SpartanNash incorporates a lot of letters into its corporate identity. But imagine if those letters were 16 feet high and 150 feet long, strung across a paved commercial lot in Grand Rapids, Michigan. That's exactly what emerged in summer 2022 when 24 bright-eyed interns, a spattering of SpartanNash associate employees, and a Guinness World Records adjudicator converged upon the company headquarters parking lot, according to Guinness World Records. Armed with an abundance of enthusiasm and thousands of ready-to-eat food items, the would-be food artists created a colorful monument from canned vegetables, cereal, pasta, and a jamboree of boxed mixes, potatoes, snacks, and shelf-ready dried goods.

The immediate goal was to break a reigning 2018 Guinness World Record (GWR) title for the largest packaged food word. While the most recent title holder from Hong Kong utilized 1,111 packaged food items, SpartanNash interns smashed the record with 5,791 items from the company's "Our Family" line of almost 2,000 private-label brand products, per the company.

Winning the GWR title came from spelling out the SpartanNash name using the food products, but that record-breaking achievement was only part of the payoff for those involved, explained in a YouTube video by SpartanNash executive Andy Claussen. The entire collection of canned and packaged foods went to the Buist Community Assistance Center, a local nonprofit providing food and clothing to community members in need. An added perk for interns is the resume-building contribution to a prestigious Guinness World Record title.