Business

Walmart Tackles Hunger With Donations

September 28, 2019, 12:40 PM HST
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Firefighters assisting at a food bank. Wikipedia photo.

Food insecurity, while varying geographically, is present throughout the country.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, nearly 40 million people face hunger in the US, including an estimated 161,270 individuals in Hawai‘i.

Walmart collaborates year-round with Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, to support its network of 200 member food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs nationwide, a company press release stated.

This year, through the retailer’s Spring Fight Hunger, Spark Change campaign, Walmart and Sam’s Club customers and associates raised more than $85,000 for Hawai‘i Foodbank and the three neighbor island-affiliated food banks including Hawai‘i Foodbank–Kaua‘i Chapter, Maui Foodbank and Hawai‘i Food Basket.

Since 2014, the campaign has helped raise more than $261,000 for Hawai‘i Foodbank, helping secure more than 1 billion meals for food banks nationwide, the release continued.

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“Thanks to the generosity and support of our customers, associates and suppliers, we are raising awareness about food insecurity in Hawai‘i and taking action to be a part of the solution,” said Lance McAlister, market manager for Walmart in Hawai‘i. “We applaud Hawai‘i Foodbank for the work they do every day to fight hunger in our communities.”

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In addition to monetary contributions, retail food donations are also an essential part of Feeding America’s strategy for fighting hunger, accounting for the largest single source of meals the organization provided to people facing hunger last year, the release said.

In 2018, 1.4 billion meals — 32.5% of total meals provided by Feeding America partners — resulted from retail food donations. Last year Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers in Hawai‘i donated more than 1.4 million pounds of food to Hawai‘i Foodbank and affiliated pantries, resulting in thousands of meals for families and individuals statewide.

“We are both inspired by and grateful to our valued community partner Walmart whose generous donation through the Fight Hunger, Spark Change campaign enables The Food Basket, Hawai‘i Island’s Food Bank, to provide more nutritious food to Hawai‘i Island’s families, children and seniors who are struggling with hunger,” said Kristin Frost Albrecht, executive director of The Food Basket, Hawai‘i Island Food Bank.

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“Due to the continued recovery from the back-to-back disasters of the Kīlauea lava eruption and Hurricane Lane, we are experiencing a 30% percent increase in emergency food requests — with more families than ever needing a helping hand to provide food at the end of the month,” she continued. “Walmart’s gift will be a tremendous help towards filling the meal gap for our food-insecure neighbors who don’t know where their next meal will come from.”

Hunger can affect individuals from all walks of life, but some populations are more at risk. In Hawai‘i, children are one of the most vulnerable groups to food insecurity. According to Feeding America, hungry children are more likely to be hospitalized and face higher risks of health conditions like anemia and asthma. As they grow up, kids struggling to get enough to eat are more likely to have problems in school and other social situations.

Individuals can take action today to help fight hunger in their communities by volunteering their time or donating to any of the 200 member food banks or 60,000 food pantries and meal programs that comprise the Feeding America network.

Go to www.hungeractionmonth.com to learn more and find a local Feeding America partner near you. Learn more about what Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are doing to help in these efforts at Walmart.org.

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