Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have enlisted country artists The Band Perry, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley and four of the United States’ largest food companies — General Mills, ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods and Kellogg Co.—to do battle against hunger this spring. The collaborative campaign will allow millions of Americans to get involved by shopping at Walmart or visiting the company’s Facebook page through April 30.
Spring usually brings a decline in donations to food banks, leaving them unable to meet the needs of almost 49 million Americans who at some point this year will be uncertain as to where their next meal will come from. To help address this shortfall, Walmart is urging customers to visit one of its 3,854 Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets across the country and buy products from participating suppliers that will help provide meals to needy families. In-store signs will direct shoppers to participating products, and on-package labels will tell how to generate meals by entering product codes online, sharing a hashtag on Twitter or scanning a QR code.
“Hunger is a defining issue for America as millions struggle to put food on the table every day,” said Jack Sinclair, EVP of Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart’s U.S. grocery business. “Helping fight hunger is something our associates, customers and supplier partners believe in, and together we can help make a positive impact on this issue. Simply by going into a Walmart store or going online, every consumer in America has the opportunity to join this effort.”
The initiative aims to donate more than 42 million meals to Feeding America food banks and Action for Healthy Kids.
Customers can also visit Walmart’s Facebook page to vote for one of 200 communities hardest hit by unemployment. The community with the most votes will get $1 million for anti-hunger efforts. The next 20 communities will each receive $50,000 for hunger relief. The Facebook campaign will additionally offer information on how users can donate or volunteer with hunger-fighting organizations on a local level.
“No one in America should go hungry,” noted Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Chicago-based Feeding America. “Through this program, Walmart and its partners are making a powerful impact that will not only address hunger this spring, but will [also] have a lasting effect on the issue of hunger in America.”
In 2010, Walmart committed $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger. As a part of this commitment, the company pledged to donate more than 1.1 billion pounds of food from Walmart stores, distribution centers and Sam’s Club locations, valued at $1.75 billion, in addition to $250 million in grants to support hunger relief organizations. Walmart is also helping food banks operate more efficiently. To date, the company has contributed more than 594 million pounds of food and $122 million in grants to hunger relief programs.