2012-09-18

Co.Exist

Walmart's Plan To Fight Hunger In The U.S.

The retail giant is going to be giving away $2 billion in cash and food in an attempt to get more food to the 50 million Americans who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from.

In the past half decade, Walmart has quickly established itself as a major player in the fight to eliminate food deserts, or places that lack nearby access to healthy food (with controversial results). But the largest company on the planet isn’t stopping there. The Walmart Foundation unveiled this week its Fall campaign for "Fighting Hunger Together," an ambitious $2 billion commitment to help end hunger in the U.S.

The Fighting Hunger Together project, a commitment from both Walmart and the Walmart Foundation, launched in 2010. Since then, the project has spawned a number of initiatives, including a Facebook campaign that allowed people to vote on which communities with high unemployment rates (there were 200 in the running) should get grants to fight hunger. The winner, Youngstown-Warren, Ohio, received $1 million, while 20 runners-up received $50,000 each.

This month, Walmart is launching the Golden Spark campaign (a riff on Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket), where entrants can register online or by mail. 40 randomly selected winners will each choose a community that gets $50,000 in funding to start (or improve, if one already exists) a backpack program that provides nutritious meals to kids on the weekends, when they can’t access low-cost school lunches.

Walmart employees can also get involved—the more hours employees from a given store spend volunteering at food banks, the more likely they are to win their own Golden Spark (there are 10 for employees in total). Walmart is also ramping up meal donations (the goal is to donate 1.1 billion pounds of food from Walmart stores, distribution centers, and Sam’s Club locations by 2015) with help from five suppliers: ConAgra, Kraft, Unilever, General Mills, and Kellogg’s.

On a larger scale, Walmart is working to bring together its hunger and nutrition initiatives—teams that are often kept separate in other organizations. "These are communities that work in parallel universes," says Sylvia Matthews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation.

With high unemployment and rising food costs from this summer’s drought, progress on ending—or even slightly quelling—hunger in the U.S. seems daunting. According to a recent report from the USDA, there were 50 million people in the country last year who didn’t know at some point where their next meal would come from. But, says Burwell, "The overall numbers would have been greater if not for efforts not just from us, but from suppliers, organizations like Feeding America, and food banks."

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19 Comments

  • Carlaldrich1942

    wal mart...the store you hate to love.  who was first with relief supplies after katrina?  they already had the trucks loaded because they knew  there would be a need some where some time.  who refused to knuckle under to religious groups who think their winter holiday is the only one worthwhile?  now they are trying to help feed the hungry of america.  read your bible!

  • Wake up

    Walmart, is just trying to get their toxic filled crap into human bodies. Monsanto is behind all those food brands, with their genetically engineered, chemical foods. Poison the masses, especially the most volranable done not seem like a good way to stop hunger, just spread corporate greed. I wish pl would wake up and stand up to these companies and stop spending their hard earned money there.

  • Guest

    Walmart would help end the hunger here in the US if they paid their employees a decent wage

  • Jkb208

    This is great! And exactly how this huge problem should be tackled...by private industries and butnot government poorly ran, expensive and inefficient programs. If Romney is elected and cuts taxes by 20% across the board and cap deductions (like non profit donations) at $17,000 thus driving out a huge incentive for taxpayers to donate. Watch how much the non profit sector will suffer! Great initiate walmart.

  • deshea420

    Thank you for defending people who have to recieve food stamps to br able to feed their family!!! My husband cannot work because he has 3 metal plates holding his head on! He wants to work but the government conciders him a liability because of the metal and plastic in his body and the medications he has to take so his body will not reject the metal and plastic.

  • Madi

    kudos to walmart for helping. my mother works for and i've volunteered at a not for profit agency for years. this one specificity advocates against domestic violence towards women, children, and the elderly, and on the necessary occasion, men. walmart donates so much, food and diapers for the food panty, and clothing accessories, toys ect for their blue Santa program and school supplies for the back to school drive. not to mention the donations for the fund raisers. as far as product content that walmart sells, its each and every persons decisions what they put in their shopping cart. my family doesnt load up on candy, sweets and high processed foods. but every now and again, i do enjoy a candy bar. don't blame the corporations for the Americans lack of self. control. if your unwilling to do your research, especially when information is so accessible, then you deserve to be brain washed and herded around like cattle. and as far as food stamps.... my family has received them before. i hate when people assume that if you get food stamps, you mist be lazy. its a great program and i wouldn't have been able to feed my children this previous year while their father recovered from a violent car accident that left home with a broken neck. despite the fact that i worked 50 hours a week, times were tough. so you want to take away food stamps? sorry, i can't agree with you wanting my daughters to go hungry.

  • windy_xx

    Luicferno, if the food stamp program ended, an awful lot of Walmart employees and their families would go hungry.  Of course, the Walton family wouldn't care ---- they would just hire more employees to take their places.  Without the food stamp program, Walmart would go bust.  Walmart depends on that program to compensate for the poverty wages they pay. 

  • LUICFERNO

    HEY!! WALMART!!! BEST WAY TO FIGHT HUNGER!!! ELIMINATE THE GOVERNMENT "FOOD STAMPS !!! " , GIVE THE LAZY  ASSES A BIG SHOVEL AND A HUGE PILE OF DIRT!!!

    TELL THE DEMONCRAT TO MOVE THE DIRT DOWN THE ROAD ABOUT 200 FEET!!!!!
    THEN WHEN HE MOVES IT OVER THERE, TELL  HIM/OR HER TO MOVE IT BACK!!!

    REPEAT THIS PROCEDURE FOR 180 DAYS!!!
    LET THEM FEEL WHAT THE W.P.A.  WAS LIKE IN 1930'S!!! A DEMONCRAT PARTY INVENTION!!! NO GREEDY LABOR UNIONS EITHER!!!

  • Angelika Bertrand

    I wait for the day that you will be in their shoes! God be aware this ever happens to you! You are so ignorant

  • Blindness of Strangers

    Do You have anything else besides hateful Unintelligent nonsense to share?

  • Aubretia Edick

    Walmart could help ease poverty by paying its own employees  a living wage

  • Treasurefinder16

    While this all seems to be a great program, has anyone taken the time to ask, how many of this company's employees are sadly dependent on this and many other programs?  What's the stats? 47% of the associates, qualify and are on some sort of state aid.  Why are we allowing this to happen?  Visit facebook page Organization United for Respect - this organization's members are current and former associates.

  • Sharon Kremer

    They are supplying nutritious meals to kids for free yet I see 2 complaints about them ahead of me. Lowering prices will not get food to children that parents can not afford at any price. Yes they throw away food find out why they are forced to. Maybe it has changed by now hope so. Business is there for profit when you volunteer you expect no payment. Why criticize for helping.They didn't say they were handing out free candy bars,no that will be done on Halloween by all of the I guess we'll call them dangerous folks we call our neighbors.Paleez. Stop with the bad mouthing and join in the helping for a change it might feel right and good to ya.WalMart isn't making kids fat and unhealthy PARENTS are. If TV is their babysitter and potato chips their friend and they are 3 who is to blame.

  • Cartoph

    I'm not sure ponctual donations are the way to go,
    lowering fresh produces prices, educating the population are more likely to make an impact.
    Fat and sugar are cheap compared to healthier things, and not everyone has the time to cook from scratch (if they are already working two jobs and taking care of kids for exemple) but some basic meals are dead easy and super fast to cook.
    It's not just about eating enough it's about eating good, or you might end up not hungry but also not healthy ( cholesterol, diabete, heart problems..) and that's going to cost more in the long run than substituing pricier apples for those cheaper twinkies or french fries.

  • Jon

     I couldn't agree more. The power of Walmart to change people's food choices through education, low prices and smart options is what they really need to be focused on, but they are clearly more concerned about their bottom line. I would hazard a guess that margins are much greater on cheap processed food.  If you look at this 5 year commitment vs. net profit over that time...this is less than half of what target donates (5%).  Walmart will make $75 billion in profits through 2015. Most of the 2 billion (1.75) is food donations. How much is unsold, perishable food they need to get rid of anyway?)