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Walmart commits $2 billion to fight hunger

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WASHINGTON — Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have made a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment under a five-year initiative to help end hunger in the United States.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have made a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment under a five-year initiative to help end hunger in the United States.

Called "Fighting Hunger Together," the effort includes donating more than 1.1 billion pounds of food from Walmart stores, distribution centers and Sam’s Club locations, valued at $1.75 billion, as well as grants totaling $250 million to support hunger relief organizations at the national, state and local levels.

The company said it also aims to marshal support from Walmart associates and customers. For example, Walmart’s logistics team will lend their expertise to help food banks become more efficient in their operations. In addition, the initiative will spur collaboration with government, food manufacturers and other corporations fighting hunger to increase impact and reach a greater number of families in need.

Walmart vice chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright announced the initiative Wednesday on Capitol Hill along with Kevin Concannon, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services; Senate Hunger Caucus co-chairwoman Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D., Ark.); House Hunger Caucus co-chairman Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.); Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, (R., Mo.); Rep. John Boozman, (R., Ark.); and Terry Shannon, president and chief executive officer of St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix, the nation’s first food bank.

"Increasingly, we see opportunities to use our scale and reach to solve challenges in our communities. This is one of those times," Castro-Wright stated. "By working together, we believe we can reach a day where no individual in this country has to go to bed hungry or worry if there will be food to put on the table tomorrow."

Walmart said that according to a November 2009 USDA report, the nation’s hunger rates are the highest since 1995, with nearly 15% of households lacking access to an adequate supply of nutritious food. Walmart expects its cash and in-kind gifts of fresh produce, meat, dairy and other foods to provide more than 1 billion meals to these needy families.

"Solving the problem of hunger in America will require help from partners at all levels — government, nonprofit organizations and the private sector ± acting together," Concannon commented. "Walmart’s five-year commitment of money and resources, coupled with its outreach to employees and customers, will help meet the nutrition needs of countless children and families across our country."

On Wednesday, the Walmart Foundation announced the first grants as part of this commitment:

• Donations totaling $8 million to help U.S. food banks improve capacity. This includes $6 million to purchase 60 refrigerated trucks for Feeding America food banks. Added to the 69 previously donated by Walmart, the trucks will help ensure that each food bank can safely transport donations from Walmart stores and other grocers.

• Donations totaling $10 million will help ensure that children nationwide are fed healthy meals during the school year and summer months. For example, $2 million will support the National Recreation and Park Association’s summer feeding program and provide 2 million meals for U.S. children.

Walmart said it will help each of its 1.4 million U.S. associates and the 140 million customers find opportunities to support food banks, senior meal delivery programs and other hunger relief organizations in their communities. More details on how customers can get involved will be announced this summer.

Walmart noted that last year, when high levels of unemployment placed greater demands on U.S. food banks, it doubled its food donations, providing 81 million more pounds of food than the prior year. The company’s contributions made up 45% of donations from retailers to Feeding America food banks. The retailer also helped to feed more than 93,000 children in 2009 through a donation to the Boys and Girls Club of America’s summer feeding program.


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