BYRON CENTER, Mich. — A west Michigan company is working with an international nonprofit to help supply basic needs to Ukrainian refugees.
“During a crisis, we come together and we ship as one,” said Sharron Fleener, director of export services and regulations for SpartanNash.
According to Fleener, the business is uniquely positioned to help in the Ukraine crisis.
SpartanNash’s largest international client, the U.S. military, relies on the business to stock commissaries and exchanges with the popular grocery products that service members and their families want.
“We’re like all the suppliers all in one taking it to the actual warehouse who then takes it to every single store,” said Fleener.
During the 48 year partnership between the two entities, Fleener says a global supply chain network full of contacts and special clearances has been created, which has allowed delivery time to cut down from 120 days to 28 days or less in an emergency.
Last week, when Russia invaded Ukraine and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee, SpartanNash made a few calls and began to collect cash and other items in need, like diapers, energy bars, and water, in hopes that they could quickly provide assistance.
SpartanNash also partnered with Convoy of Hope, an international nonprofit with on-the-ground connections in Poland, to get the supplies from the ports into the hands of refugees who fled there.
“Any time you hear any kind of a tragedy or crisis like this, especially when I’m going in that area anyways, your heart just bleeds, especially in the name of freedom,” said Fleener.
SpartanNash hopes to send the first container by next Tuesday.
Fleener says from start to finish, the process takes about 12 to 15 days. While the company has dealt with logistical issues caused by COVID-19 too, Fleener says it is unclear if those delays happen in a crisis situation.
“No matter what’s happening, we’re not going to stop,” said Fleener. “Even though we are here in the United States, we are here with you.”