Safeway halts relationship with schools fundraiser

Safeway ends 16-year association with eScrip

Safeway has discontinued its association with a fundraising organization that provides donations to school, including the Pleasanton Unified School District.

Safeway, which was acquired earlier this year by Boise-based Albertson, announced this week it will stop working with San Mateo-based eScrip, which it has aligned with for 16 years.

" After careful review, we concluded the model wasn't the best fit for our company going forward. The decision was driven by our desire to more effectively serve the communities where we operate stores," spokesman Keith Turner said. "We believe that local decisions should be considered at the local level. This change is designed to give our divisions the freedom to make the best choices for our customers and the communities we serve."

The Pleasanton-based grocery chain announced in February it had contributed more than $300 million to schools through eScrip since 1999.

Pleasanton Unified spokeswoman Nicole Steward said the district's PTA leaders are the ones who work with eScrip to receive the donation.

Katie Brunner, president of the Pleasanton PTA Council, said the district received between $2,600 and $10,000 last school year from eScrip. The estimate is wide because each school's PTA provided her with a fundraising estimate range.

Richard Sutch, eScrip spokesman, said the company will continue to provide schools with funding through other stores, such as Planet Organics, Angels Food Market and Cal Mart Supermarket.

"We at eScrip remain committed to providing funding sources to schools and other non-profits through our online shopping portal as well as local restaurants and dining establishments. We are also in conversation with grocers representing the Pleasanton area who wish to give to the local schools, and are excited about the prospects," he said.

He said details as to how much funding has been provided to Pleasanton Unified is proprietary information.

While Safeway won't be giving school districts regular funding through eScrip, it will provide quarterly donations to school districts, Turner said. The amount Pleasanton Unified will receive hasn't been determined, and the company hasn't decided yet whether it will align with a different donation service.

"We want to make sure schools are not adversely affected by this change and so we are offering funds to help the schools. We recognize that many of our schools have already set their budgets for the 2015-2016 school year and many of the organizations will continue to receive funding in quarterly disbursements," he said.

Starting in July 2016, the grocery company will accept grant requests from schools through the Safeway Foundation. Applications can be found at

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


6 people like this
Posted by Samie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2015 at 9:29 am

This is horrible! The amount of money that the schools are going to lose is heartbreaking! We should all get together and protest in front of all the Safeway stores. The people making this decision probably makes more in bonus a year than what's being given to the schools.

5 people like this
Posted by No words
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 12, 2015 at 9:39 am

Such an outrageously selfish act

41 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 12, 2015 at 9:55 am

Safeway is still providing funds they are choosing a different method than e-Scrip. Safeway has donated a millions to our community over the years and we should be thankful for what we have been given. Now, they are planning to donate it through grants which means they have a better understanding of where the funds are going and how they are being used. They are making us accountable for how we spend the funds which we should all respect that they are creating accountability in our community. Don't you want to know how those millions are being spent?

13 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Aug 12, 2015 at 10:05 am

"" After careful review, we concluded the model wasn't the best fit for our company going forward. The decision was driven by our desire to more effectively serve the communities where we operate stores," spokesman Keith Turner said."

I suggest that people address letters to this spokesman Keith Turner with a copy to Albertson Corporate Headquarters reading something like this:

Dear Keith Turner,

After careful review, I have concluded that your company is not the best fit to my family's grocery shopping needs. This decision was driven by our family's desire to more effectively serve our own community by shopping at stores which help support our community, and your company's recent decision to drop eScrip shows that Safeway/Albertson is no longer such a store."

16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 12, 2015 at 10:06 am

Gene's Market on Hopyard works with eSCRIP and it is a much better grocery store.

4 people like this
Posted by Julia
a resident of another community
on Aug 12, 2015 at 11:41 am

[Post removed because it added no value to the conversation, but only insulted other commenters.]

14 people like this
Posted by Joyce
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2015 at 1:27 pm

It is a sad day. Safeway did indeed support our schools through the PTA's and the Booster organizations. I am on the board at Amador and we will need to adjust our budget to reflect their lack of donations. Thankfully we fund our budget through a number of fundraising programs. The program worked because it was easy to sign up and monies went directly to the organizations involved in a timely manner. Grants from community organizations are a cumbersome vehicle at best and usually take a long time to process, kudos to Safeway if they are able to turn a grant request around and fund it during the same school year it is applied for. Regarding accountability, at any time Safeway could have asked organizations for copies of their respective budgets, if indeed they wanted to know where their money is being spent. Please do consider where you do your shopping. Raley's, Lucky, Gene's and Target do have programs in place to support our schools. Make sure when you go to your respective walk thru registration that you stop by the escrip table to update any information or find out which stores are supporting your school.

1 person likes this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Try sprouts. Better food less costly

15 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 12, 2015 at 4:35 pm

Its only Safeway in name. It's now owned by appropriately named Cerberus Capital Management which you all should become familiar with. They're in it for the money, not the community. Of course it's free market, their business and they can and will run it as they see fit to extract as much profit as they can which means no handouts to our schools. I also support and buy from companies that support our community because it's free market. I now only hit Safeway for convenience items, they lost the bulk of our shopping once Cerberus the hellhound took over.

5 people like this
Posted by Stonedale resident
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 12, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Has Mr. Sutch ever been to Pleasanton. The stores he refers to are not even nearby. What stores in Pleasanton are part of the escrip program?

24 people like this
Posted by Tori Forest
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 12, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Safeway is making a big change in how they manage their fundraising but it sounds positive and more focused. Instead of being limited by parents shopping habits, you will be able to apply for a grant based on need. They are also giving funds through next year to ease the transition.

Gene's in Pleasanton has their own card which is part of the eScrip program but you do need to sign up separately in the store or at Select Big O Tire Stores donate through eScrip, so if you need tires you can help your school by still using your eScrip card.

I just looked at our school's eScrip report and see that we have received donations from parents shopping at ~Fresh and Easy, ~Baja Fresh, ~Black Bear Diner, ~El Charro, ~Fontina Restaurante, just to name a few. I bet if we ask EVERYWHERE we shop and dine if they take eScrip we can bring those numbers up. eScrip has online shopping and so does AMAZON! through their Amazon's Smile program. With all the business Amazon gets it seems like we could more than make up what eScrip brings in. Target's Red card, as someone already mentioned is another program that donates to schools.

After I hit submit I'm going to make sure I'm signed up and have my daughters school selected for eScrip, Target's Red card, and Amazon Smile program. I will also make sure my Gene's community card is where I can easily get to it at Gene's when I check out. I'll look through this thread and check back to see if anyone mentions any I've missed. Take care all!

26 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 12, 2015 at 8:44 pm

Protest a charity program ending? Really? Is this out of an AL Sharpton playbook? And what contributing responsible member of society has time to protest this? Get a job and donate your own money.

Don't like the change, change your buying habits. I agree it's unfortunate but calling for a protest to a fundraising activity is such an entitlist mentality. How about a thank you for X years of support?

6 people like this
Posted by ParentG
a resident of another community
on Aug 12, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Safeway dropping the eScrip program will hurt many more organizations than just schools.
While eScrip is continuing through other businesses, the fact is Safeway was a simple and easy participant to visit regularly as most folks like to eat. Hopefully don't need tires or clothes that regularly.
It's been a good run, sorry the new management is choosing for the change.
Using a Safeway grant program may seem like an easy next step, but I see this as managements way of easily setting cap limits for funds, restricting application times, denying applications, and generally make receiving funds far more restrictive and difficult.
EScrip funds were based on your actual purchase habits (so they already have your $ before they doled out the scrip funds). Pretty much a guarantee that you'd get something, but based on how much you had already spent.
A grant will likely require a collection of paperwork and an application, and a submission deadline and an approval wait period all before you will know whether OR NOT that you may receive anything. You may be denied, or the amount of grant $ has been exhausted for the year, or whatever excuse. And so now after all that process you may still have nothing. Grants are nice and all that, but certainly not a guarantee.

18 people like this
Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2015 at 11:01 pm

Anybody with a calculator can look up the financials for a large grocery chain like Safeway and see how thin the profit margins really are. It really is a 2-3% business, or less. So I've always been amazed that Safeway and Gene's and other stores even consider entering into a give-back program like eScrip. Because their profit margin is gone for those customers that invoke the program when they shop.

Resident is completely correct in stating that we should be thankful that Safeway has provided funding for our community in the past, and they it will continue to provide in the future, although in a different form.

Many of you that have commented have forgotten that it's necessary for a business to make a profit, to stay in business. No profit = no business = no donations for anybody. And you're playing the blame game when you attempt to single out corporations or corporate management as greedy or uncaring.

If you're really that angry with Safeway for changing its donation structure, and you want to make good on your threat to boycott the store, or to protest, or something else, please do so. Write letters, whatever, let us know how it works out. If you decide to go into business for yourself, and deal with profit and loss on a daily basis, let us know how that works out too, and whether it's been an education for you.

4 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Aug 12, 2015 at 11:30 pm

@Registered Joe: "Resident is completely correct in stating that we should be thankful that Safeway has provided funding for our community in the past, and they it will continue to provide in the future, although in a different form."

As Eric pointed out above, it's "Safeway" now only in name. It's a completely different management structure now, apparently run by Cerberus Capital Management. That's why in my post above I referred to it as "Safeway/Albertson". You can also refer to it as "Safeway/Cerebus" or "Cerebus/Safeway" or "Albertson/Safeway". But don't just call the new store "Safeway" as you did above with the implication that it is the very same "Safeway" that provided community funding in the past because it's not.

5 people like this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 8:07 am

For those who are taking such an eloquent and dignified position, calling for "boycott" of Safeway, nothing is stopping them from donating directly to the local schools, that is likely more effective rather than having the money take the path of consumer->"old" Safeway->eScrip->Pleasanton School org's.

Surely the support of such vocal local school advocates, the PTAs and booster clubs will be rolling in dough that previously had to filter through "old" Safeway corporate then through eScrip. I look forward to hearing the tidal wave of donations that stems from this development. How much of of a dollar you spent at the "old" Safeway ended up in the pleasanton school affiliates? Probably not much. Here is the chance for all the passionate locals to act with their wallet and do something more direct and more effective.

Unless, of course, despite all the rhetoric, their support of the local schools was a just matter of convenience since they already shopped at the "old" Safeway and required no additional effort than buying their groceries. I would hate to think that was the case.

9 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 13, 2015 at 9:02 am

The decision to exit E-Script is the latest in a series of significant changes Albertsons senior management has made to Safeway operations. Safeway was a 75+ year old, locally headquartered company (in Pleasanton since 1997, Oakland before that) but no more. It is now just a banner name, like Vons down south--one of many as part of The Albertsons Companies, Inc. Check out the Albertsons website. Little has surfaced in the press about the scope of job cuts that have taken place in the last 6 months at the Safeway corporate headquarters (which were significant) nor the number of jobs that are being moved to the Albertsons headquarters in Boise. Sooner or later, the Safeway name on the building along 580 will be gone. While the Northern California Safeway stores are managed locally, and Mr. Turner is part of that team, they serve at the pleasure of the senior corporate leaders in Boise and the Cerebrus private equity owners. Ask the folks in Boise why a decision like this was even on the radar screen. In the end, Boise calls the shots now.

2 people like this
Posted by Julia
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2015 at 9:31 am

Dear TS Moderator...Your censorship act in removing my post with regard to my truthful statement was completely disgraceful. I believe you over stepped your authority. That's the trouble with America today...WAY TOO POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.

Julia Pardini signing out now and forever. All you thin skin folks will not have the opportunity of reading the truth any longer.

I hope everyone enjoys reading about Mothers Day and Apple Pie, that will get you far in life...

Good bye. Julia Pardini from Alamo TS Moderator, well go ahead and do your gutless thing...REMOVE MY MESSAGE.

Like this comment
Posted by Kara
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Aug 13, 2015 at 10:13 am

Even though Safeway is still going to be donating money to schools there going to be taking a lot from schools. They should be ashamed of themselves for leaving schools in a lurch this year. I saw how they were going to try and work with schools, it's not going to help fill the gap that some schools already have budgeted. we're lucky in our community that schools will probably be able to find a way to fill the gap but another school districts it's not going to be that easy and Safeway really should've looked at this before they just decided to stop support kids

15 people like this
Posted by good riddance Julia
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 13, 2015 at 10:42 am

PW cannot "overstep their authority" you moron, they OWN this site. Your rants from Alamo are generally inappropriate and unwanted so go sit in your corner and pout.

For those who are angry that Safeway has unilaterally stopped giving the schools money for which there is little control or accounting, get over it. Those monies were donations, they were not legal assessments. Perhaps if the schools had acted a bit more gracious all along and realized that donations are voluntary, not to be part of a permanent budget, things would not seem so grim now.

Why would Safeway, or any other corporation, now choose to give more money to a bunch of entitled whiners?

5 people like this
Posted by Vineyards
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2015 at 10:55 am

escript is a for profit entity that does not disclose it's donation/admin exp ratio's that I can find. That would play a role if I were donating $.

3 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Aug 13, 2015 at 11:21 am

It's true that donations from a grocery chain are entirely voluntary, and no one has claimed otherwise. It's also true that grocery chains and other companies do not give donations out of pure altruism. They give donations in large part in order to cultivate good PR and community relations, with the aim of generating more business.

As for the point that the grocery business is a low profit margin business, that's true. However, it should also be pointed out that the grocery business is not without its benefits. I was once standing in line in a Safeway when I overheard a Safeway middle manager also in line chatting with a new Safeway employee about the benefits of working at Safeway. One thing he pointed out was that he had never experienced the threat of a layoff in his career there and was praising the employment stability of the business. It's true. The grocery business is pretty recession-proof. People really can't cut back much on food purchases when the economy is down. When a new Safeway or other grocery store goes up, it's usually there for a long, long time, unlike other businesses which often close after a few years. That's why long-term community relations and good PR are so important in the grocery store business. Grocery stores like Safeway or Albertsons really do stay around for so long that they become well established in the community. Sure, it's their money to use as they please, but getting off to a bad public relations start as Albertsons/Cerebus seems to be doing with this eScrip announcement just doesn't seem to be a smart move.

4 people like this
Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 11:36 am

Kara, please take Business 101 before you post again. Tell me that you don't shop where prices are most attractive. And with that in mind, tell me how a store, any store, is supposed to cater to your buying needs AND deliver free-of-charge money to schools to "fill the gap." You can't have it both ways, except in the dream world you're coming from.

Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 11:38 am

Donate directly to the charity of your choice not through a paid fundraiser!
"America’s middle class is far more generous than the upper classes: Households that earn $50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6% of their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2% for people who make $100,000 or more. Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in more economically diverse communities.

Red states are more generous than blue states: The eight states where residents gave the highest share of income to charity vote for the Republican Party; the seven-lowest ranking states support the Democratic Party.

Religion has a big influence on giving patterns: Regions of the country that are deeply religious are more generous than those that are not. Two of the top nine states — Utah and Idaho — have high numbers of Mormon residents, who have a tradition of tithing at least 10% of their income to the church — the remaining states in the top nine are all in the Bible Belt."
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 11:49 am

Too many "charity fundraisers" are scams! Know who you're funding before you give.
Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Aug 13, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Addressing a couple of the statements:
Food retailing is a narrow margin retail business -size and scale are important from a cost & retail price standpoint, as is advertising, etc. eScript is a retention program and would be a part of the marketing budget and is a program that, like print advertising, that will adjust based on customer reach strategies. Supermarkets look at the P&L of all of these strategies -if they aren't generating enough return, then $ get shifted into a program that will. Additionally, there have been huge changes in communication to consumers driven by technology, particularly mobile which means older programs may not now be as cost effective.
Possibly someone with more current PTA board experience can comment but when I served 10 years ago, the $ from eScript was directed to specific schools based on the user designation of that particular school. My experience was that these $ were spent very, very carefully with a focus on greatest benefit for the kids. The statement "it's not going to help fill the gap that some schools already have budgeted" is correct. Pleasanton PTA's continue to provide partial or full funding for various school programs (and have done for years) that were deemed a site priority and discontinuing the program has the potential to curtain some of these activities. The challenge now is to get ALL families in a school to participate in the requests for additional donations at the start of the school year, rather than rely on the usual 10-15% who consistently step up.
I am curious about a response from the District Office -no doubt this will create a hole in PTA funds that have papered over a lack of $ from the DO to support a variety of programs -are they, with the additional state funds, going to step up and fill the hole?

Like this comment
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Hi Joe

Are there specific examples of programs that you can recall where the eScrip funds were used in Pleasanton schools? When programs were discontinued, were they usually due to low participation, lack of funding, or a combination of both?


12 people like this
Posted by Joyce
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm

AVHS PTSA-A followup to my earlier comment. We had our Executive Board Mtg. last night so I can update you on the specifics to Amador Valley High School. We will be receiving 95% of what we took in last calendar year from Safeway in four installments for this next calendar year. Our total will be $7400.00. As you can see it is a good amount of money. To answer Joe and FrequentWalker our PTSA does not earmark funds received for a specific program but rather we put all income into one fund. We then come together as a group of Executive and General Members review our past budget, identify items for the budget based on PTSA, Student, Teacher and school adminstration input, delete or add items to fund based on need, adjust items based on the income that we receive, vote on the budget in a general meeting, then finally release funds via grants and payments for identified items. Last year we had requests for $50,000 in grants and were able to fund $37,000 for 46 requests so not everyone was fully funded but we like to be sure everyone gets something. We funded science lab supplies, novels, workbooks, sanitation supplies, e-books, dry erase boards, review books, DVDs, adaptive kitchen supplies, kiln shelves, video tools, darkroom enlargers, audio speakers and the list goes on. As far as programs we have a budget for families in need, partially fund graduation ($10,000), health and wellness, library, Reflections art program, SAT bootcamp etc. I am trying to be specific so people understand that we do put an extensive amount of thought and personal time into the process. Hope this answers some of the questions.

Like this comment
Posted by d
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Aug 14, 2015 at 8:57 am

Where is the lottery money going? Why do we need escript. Too many union benefits perhaps? Lets get real and audit the schools and government. How many admins does a principle need? They compare themselves to other Govt entities. The county has this pay raise, therefore I need my pay raise. Ever read Animal Farm?

2 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 15, 2015 at 11:44 am

Thanks for the comments. I was on the board at an elementary school so quite possibly a different focus in programs -the music program and a reading specialist were programs that received funding (along with the types of expenditures you reference.) It will take some time to wind the program down and any $ that were coming in are going to be missed...This issue may be cutting a little closer to the bone in Pleasanton due to the proximity of the corporate offices.

Like this comment
Posted by Jim Farnsworth
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Hi...I picked up this article because I'm focused on the rise of CROWDFUNDING for schools. More and more schools are doing it all over the country; San Francisco has established its own Crowdfunding platform for its teachers. Schools keep 90% of all money raised.

Standard school fundraising only earns 50%.
There's plenty of info on the Web abut Crowdfunding. My blog is If there's anything I can help with, my email is

Like this comment
Posted by Amy
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2015 at 11:47 am

What about the "10% back to schools" program? Has that been halted as well? We have a club at our school that goes out and collects the receipts each fall to fund our events. It would be devastating if that no longer is a possibility.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 8, 2015 at 7:42 am

If we're only talking about between $2,600 and $10,000, have the district do a journal entry on their books, and transfer that amount from the fees collected in the name of building the Neal School. That would fill that gap for over 1,000 years...

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Talking sports and life with Tommy Dyer
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 1,420 views

Couples: Mirror, Mirror on the . . . Fight?!
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,406 views