Walmart is investing $3 million in anti-hunger efforts as its eighth annual Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign kicks off against a backdrop of heightened food insecurity across the U.S.
The majority of Walmart's grant will support food banks in communities experiencing the highest rates of food insecurity, Walmart and Feeding America announced. Food banks in the U.S. are serving an average of 55% more people than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic started, Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, a former Walmart EVP, said in a conversation with Walmart Chief Sustainability Officer Kathleen McLaughlin. An estimated 1 in 8 individuals in the U.S.—and 1 in 6 children—could experience food insecurity in 2021 because of the pandemic's continued economic fallout, according to Feeding America.
"People who are hit the hardest are often the least able to weather the storm," Babineaux-Fontenot said. That includes families where parents have lost or left a job because of the COVID-19 pandemic and those who were struggling with housing or food insecurity before the pandemic started. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its monthly jobs report for March, noted that 43.4% of unemployed but actively looking individuals in the U.S. had been out of work for six months or more.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart, in addition to its own $3 million investment, has signed on 27 suppliers to support the Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign. For every participating product sold in store or online at Walmart and Sam's Club, the supplier will make a donation (equivalent to at least one meal for Walmart purchases and five meals for Sam's Club purchases) on behalf of Feeding America member food banks.
Through May 3, Walmart and Sam's Club customers are encouraged to make a donation at checkout in stores or online at www.FeedingAmerica.org/Walmart or www.FeedingAmerica.org/SamsClub. Walmart customers also have the option to round up their purchases online to support the campaign.
"After the Great Recession, it took 10 years for food insecurity to return to prerecession levels," Babineaux-Fontenot told Walmart's McLaughlin, who is also president of the Walmart Foundation. "We anticipate that it will take years for people to recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic."
WANT BREAKING NEWS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS?
Get today’s need-to-know grocery industry intelligence. Sign up to receive texts from Winsight Grocery Business.