ST. LOUIS, April 30 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Wal-Mart announced today the start of a new national food donation program in more than 560 Sam’s Clubs throughout the nation that would include the ability to provide bakery products and protein, including fresh meats and deli products, to members of America’s Second Harvest — The Nation’s Food Bank Network. The overall pilot has been in place since 2006 and will begin to roll out to Wal-Mart supercenters in coming months.
Speaking at a news conference, Michael Gonce, Market Manager for Sam’s Club, said that a pilot food donation program at Sam’s Club in St. Louis and several other cities was being rapidly expanded in cooperation with America’s Second Harvest. Gonce said the implementation timetable would depend in part on the readiness of local food banks to handle meat and deli donations, which require refrigerated transportation and storage.
“Many of our food banks are ready today, and some are already receiving donations several times a week from Sam’s Clubs,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of America’s Second Harvest. “The Sam’s meat and deli donations are particularly important because there is a pressing need for high quality protein in the diets of the clients we serve.”
“This is by far the largest amount of fresh food that we receive from any retailer in the area,” said Lenora Young, Director of Product Sourcing for the St. Louis Area Foodbank. “It has increased the total amount of nutritious meat and bakery items we receive by 35 percent,” she said. “The 500-plus food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters that rely on the St. Louis Area Foodbank for help are excited about the program and the much-needed meat items they’re now able to provide for their clients.”
Michael Gonce said that donations would soon begin at some Wal-Mart supercenters. “A pilot program is in the early stages at Wal-Mart, and we plan to use the lessons we learn from the Sam’s pilot to roll out an operational program in communities where Wal-Mart supercenters align with local foodbanks,” Gonce said. Estimates are that a combined Sam’s and
Wal-Mart donation program at the supercenter/Club level could contribute more than 70 million pounds of food per year to U.S. food banks.
In a separate announcement, Wal-Mart said that it was donating $1.5 million at the corporate level to America’s Second Harvest with $500,000 allocated to support its “Backpack Program,” which provides food on weekends and out-of-school periods for at-risk children.
Since 2005, Wal-Mart and its customers have contributed more than $16 million to help feed the nation’s hungry.
About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, millions of customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $296 million to local United States communities. To learn more, visit http://www.walmartstores.com, http://www.walmart.com, or http://www.walmartfoundation.org.