How Walmart Feeds the Hungry
Despite our economic crisis, Americans are still throwing away all manner of fresh food to the tune of 150 billion pounds a year. Most of that food comes from large grocery chains.
When meat, bread, fruits and vegetables reach their “sell by” date, the store removes them from the shelves, mostly because they are no longer visually appealing. The corn may have a dry husk or maybe the bread is a couple days old. However, in all cases, the food is perfectly healthy and edible.
This is where food banks and Walmart have stepped in. On May 12, 2010, Walmart and its Foundation, in partnership with Feeding America went to Capitol Hill to announce its plans to donate $2 billion over the next five years to help fight hunger in America. They announced the decision along with the USDA , St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance (America’s first food bank) and the Senate Hunger Caucus, a group of Senators, both Democrat and Republican,
Castro-Wright announced the company’s plans on Capitol Hill today, joined by USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon; Senate Hunger Caucus Co-Chairwoman Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.; House Hunger Caucus Co-Chairmen Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo.; Rep. John Boozman, R-Ark.; and Terry Shannon, president and CEO of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix – the first food bank in the U.S.
Good on you, Walmart!
Jackie Barnes, a Walmart employee, packs bread for donation. Last year, the company pledged to donate $2 billion in food and other aid to food banks over five years, the largest donation of its kind (Pam Fessler/NPR).
NPR decided to take a closer look at how the food moves through the big grocery chains and unto people’s tables.
Walmart sets aside the uneaten goods and the food bank volunteers come to pick them up. The challenge then is getting the food to the right places so it can be consumed while still fresh and edible. Through Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief charity, the food is distributed to other food banks, like Second Harvest and organizations, like the Salvation Army which have food distribution centers nationwide.
Mobile units are also employed to take fresh food and meats directly to the public. Whether in the city of Chicago or in rural southern towns, people often have trouble accessing large grocery chains where most of the fresh food is located. The mobile food banks bring the food directly to them or to centers nearby.
Some mobile food unit info, but there’s many across the nation:
Brought to you, in part, by Walmart. Not too shabby.
If you are so inclined, you may want to contact your local grocery store/chain and inquire if they have a similar program. I have been working with the Feeding South Florida group (formerly Daily Bread Food Bank) for approximately 5 years and it’s a terrific experience.