With the Thanksgiving season upon us, Walmart today announced that its Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets will partner with Feeding America, the nation's largest charitable hunger-relief organization, to provide an estimated 90 million pounds of food annually – the equivalent of 70 million meals – to families in need by the end of 2009.* Donating nutritious produce, deli meat, beef, chicken, dairy and other groceries directly from its stores, Wal-Mart will become one of Feeding America's largest donors of food.
In addition, the Wal-Mart Foundation announced a $2.5 million cash donation to Feeding America. These funds will be used to help Feeding America food banks improve warehouse capacity and purchase 20 new refrigerated trucks to safely transport food from Walmart stores to food pantries, soup kitchens and other Feeding America agencies.
"We are pleased to partner with Feeding America during a time of nearly unprecedented need and provide nutritious meals for their families," said Bill Simon, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Walmart U.S."Given the current state of the economy and the increased burden on neighborhood food pantries and soup kitchens, we are enlisting our entire network of stores and clubs to participate in this food donation program to provide relief to communities throughout the country."
Currently, Walmart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets in Bentonville, Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark., Denver, Colo., Ft. Wayne, Ind., Springfield, Mo., and Houston, Texas – in addition to over 450 Sam's Club locations across the U.S. – are participating in the company's food donation program. By the end of 2009, Feeding America expects its affiliated community food banks across the U.S. to be connected with each of Walmart's 2,724 Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets, and its 594 Sam's Club locations to transport food from store shelves to the tables of families in need – often in less than 24 hours.
"Today, with the help of Wal-Mart, we take a huge step forward in helping feed the millions of Americans who live at risk of hunger," said Vicki Escarrra, president and chief executive officer of Feeding America."This new store donation program will help us rescue millions of pounds of high-quality, nutritious food and deliver it to those who struggle to feed themselves and their families. We are very grateful to Wal-Mart for their continuing support of our effort to feed America."
In a recent survey, 99 percent of Feeding America's food banks said that demand for food in communities across the U.S. has risen by 15 to 20 percent over the last year alone. Many food banks have reported even higher increases in demand – some with requests for food growing by 50 percent in the last year. Wal-Mart is working to address this increased need through a three-pronged approach that includes food donation, support of local hunger relief organizations and national funding:
"I was raised in a family that believed we have a responsibility to help our fellow man in need, and I'm proud to see Wal-Mart – a corporate constituent – embrace that same belief," said Senator Blanche Lincoln, co-founder of the bipartisan U.S. Senate Hunger Caucus."Millions of Americans are hungry every day. Wal-Mart's generous donation of nutritious food to those most in need will encourage others to join us in our fight to eliminate hunger."
In addition to rolling out a food donation program to food banks throughout the country, Wal-Mart is also encouraging its customers to join in the fight against hunger by volunteering at local food banks or contributing via online donations to Feeding America's"Fill a Bowl, Feed America campaign." For more information, visit http://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action or www.walmartfoundation.org.
For more information about joining the Feeding America network of food banks and specifics on receiving food, please visit www.feedingamerica.org or call 800-771-2303.
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Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.